Riverside has a wide range of housing and support services in Cambridgeshire, each providing different levels of support for people experiencing homelessness.
They are Willow Walk, The Victoria Project, The Springs and Cambridge Youth Foyer, and each service works closely with partner agencies to provide an holistic package that is tailored to a person’s needs. One key element Riverside uses is its Psychologically Informed Environments programme, which involves creating a service where the day-to-day running has been designed to take the psychological and emotional needs of people into account. This successful approach helps increase a person’s self-esteem, belief and hope so they receive support for longer and achieve their goals.
Each service also organises activities that residents can enjoy such as cookery classes, art and craft and days out to places of interest – although some are temporarily on-hold during lockdown.
To help residents in its supported accommodation across the country during the pandemic, Riverside purchased £50,000 worth of digital gadgets so they can stay connected with the outside world. The digital tablets have either been gifted to people who need them or given to schemes which is then loaned to residents, and Willow Walk received a digital tablet.
For Craig Teat the gadget has helped him cope with schizophrenia and depression, adding: “I use the tablet and the communal laptop to play games, watch videos and films. The tablet helps me take my mind of things and put me in a different zone to think about other things.”
Willow Walk is based in an historic building that has been helping to transform the lives of rough sleepers in Cambridge since 1874. Service manager James Gordon gives an insight into how music therapy is helping residents there.
He said: “The classes build a greater sense of community and a positive experience that differs to residents’ everyday routines. Willow residents are often at the beginning of their recovery journey when they come here, at a pre-contemplative stage to address their addictive behaviours. The group is for all musical abilities, allowing residents to participate in something meaningful and find new ways to express themselves creatively. It helps increase self-esteem, sense of purpose and more healthy relationships are formed.”
Over at The Victoria Project and The Springs on Victoria Road, residents can enjoy getting involved in a gardening project to boost their health and wellbeing, grow their own vegetables and enjoy life outdoors.
The Victoria Project provides safe and supportive accommodation to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. While The Springs is a follow-on accommodation for people with low support needs.
Cambridge Youth Foyer is there to support young people aged 16 to 25 year-olds who are homeless and want to engage in education, training or employment and become independent. The service is a safe and stable place for those who can no longer live at home or are leaving care, and focuses on supporting the person’s needs to help them move on in life.