Despite a decline in homelessness across the nation, Cambridge saw the number of homeless people in the city increase by 20%. This week, Switchboard gets to the bottom of Cambridge's homelessness crisis on the latest edition of ‘Behind the Headlines’.

Switchboard S2, Ep.6Theo Fitzpatrick

The episode begins with Angel, a homeless man who has been living on the streets in Cambridge. He talks openly with Isabel and Maddy about how he came to be a rough sleeper and his experience of homelessness in the city centre. (0:55)

Next, Sam Crawley, a news correspondent for Varsity, talks us through some of the heart-breaking statistics regarding homelessness and rough sleeping in Cambridge. (4:01)

James McWilliams, the manager of Cambridge council’s housing advice service, discusses the help they provide to those living on the streets, through their own letting agency. He emphasises the difficulty that arises in Cambridge in particular, due to the high proportion of privately rented properties. (5:35)

Relaying his experience being housed in a hotel over lockdown, Angel talks about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected homeless people, and his opinion on the council’s response. (8:57)

With Angel expressing his views on the lacklustre support from the local council, the hosts put these allegations to James. (13:55)

Sam Crawley details the current rent scheme in place in Cambridge, following a £960,000 grant from the Ministry of Housing. He explains the logistics of the scheme, and the response from local homelessness charity Jimmy’s. (18:46)

Cynthia Fernando, Vice President of Cambridge Homeless Outreach Program (CHOP) talks about the work of their society to help those in need. She also discusses how housing issues can affect students themselves, and outlines some of the issues COVID has presented for the homeless community. (20:48)

Founder of The Tab’s ‘Faces of Cambridge’ series Shannon Rawlins, speaks about her goals for this project, which aims to spotlight voices of homeless people and challenge student misconceptions. (24:03)

Finally, this week’s guests give their advice on how students can help respond to homelessness in Cambridge, including actions as little as donating to a food bank or acknowledging and speaking to those on the streets. (29:45)


Mountain View

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Switchboard is Varsity’s flagship podcast. Episodes are released every Friday on all major podcasting apps via Anchor. Transcripts of all episodes are available via this link.

The Cambridge community is now spread across the UK and around the world, but Switchboard is here to keep you connected. Every episode connects you to an eclectic array of voices and sounds, from Cambridge and beyond...