Following the news that Whitworth House has been threatened with closure, in light of funding cuts made by Cambridgeshire County Council, a current resident has started a petition to garner local support.
The Whitworth Trust would encourage locals to sign, and to stand with her in protest of the closure of this service, which we are certain is needed now more than ever.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
We at the Whitworth Trust are heartbroken to have to convey some news.
We have been informed by Orwell Housing that, after 20 years of working to help young and vulnerable women, Whitworth House will close in June this year.
As many of you know, for the 15 residents of the House (who are all women, 16 to 25 years of age), it offers safe, all-female supported residential accommodation in Cambridge. You can learn more about its history and the inception of the project here: http://www.friendsofwhitworthhouse.org/whitworth-house.html
We have been told that as part of a strategic review of housing provision by County Council Commissioners, Whitworth House is one of the services that has been chosen to have its funding cut.
According to a representative from Orwell Housing – the housing association who have managed and owned Whitworth House since 2000 – the justifications the council gave for the funding cuts were as follows:
(i) Whitworth House was not assessed as being a specialist service, acting as a resource for multiple areas or offering a service which is significantly different to anything else in the local area.
(ii) Stakeholders have also flagged an over provision of services for young people in the Cambridge City area.
The above has come to us from Orwell, and we haven't spoken to representatives from the County Council yet -- this will be a next priority for us at the Whitworth Trust.
Indeed, a full critique of the decision to cut funding to this service will be useful. The next steps for our committee will be to gather as much information as we can about the conditions, circumstances, and timescale of these proposed funding cuts, and their repercussions for the provision of safe, on-going support for young women in Cambridge, many of whom come from a background of domestic and sexual violence, where mixed sex accommodation may be problematic.
The committee welcomes any and all suggestions for strategies to help safeguard such provision for women. We believe that it is imperative that this vulnerable group is supported in our community. We are hoping something can be done.
We can easily call Whitworth House a ‘service’, but it has also been a home for hundreds of vulnerable and precariously-housed women over the past 20 years. Many residents moved on and into full time education, employment, and most importantly there is started to trust a system that had failed them. As an institution, we believe that it has worked to help many women in the long term.
Orwell Housing tell us that from their perspective, the only option appears to be to accept the funding withdrawal, and as a result they can see no solution other than to close and then sell the property.
You will note that this post, which contains provisional information, is on the blog 'news and events' section of our website. We hope to make a more constructive statement in the next couple of weeks, after the committee has met and discussed some strategies for the future of provision of homeless women in Cambridge.
In the meantime, our aim is to work with Orwell to find out how we as a charity can support the current residents of Whitworth House.
We are THRILLED that the Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group (CamCRAG) have invited us to collaborate with them for ** The Big Cambridge-Calais Sleep Out 2019 **
Put **Saturday the 26th January** in your diary. And visit http://camcrag.org.uk/sleepout2019/ to find out everything you need to know about this event, which is primed to raise money and awareness for marginalised & forgotten people who will be sleeping rough this Winter, wherever and whoever they are.
Our venue will be St Giles Church, and here's what's going on:
From 1:30 --- 4:30PM there will be a WINTER FAIR in the grounds of the church, which will feature stalls, refreshments, cake & entertainment.
At 6PM there will be a Vigil Eucharist service at St Giles, which all are welcome to attend.
And from 8PM onwards, a number of volunteers will be readying themselves to sleep out overnight in the grounds of St Giles, to raise money and awareness for local charities.
By clicking through the pages on http://camcrag.org.uk/sleepout2019/ you can to register to sleep out yourself! And you can also volunteer to help out at the fair in the daytime. We'd love to hear from you if you'd like to help run a stall.
And if you know any groups or communities who would be interested in organising a mini sleepout of their own (perfect for school-age children), then get in touch with the sleepout team via the CamCRAG website --- http://camcrag.org.uk/minisleepouts/.
We are currently fundraising to provide the residents of Whitworth House with :
> a small parcel containing festive food
> a personal gift voucher and Christmas card
> a Christmas meal out with staff members
This is something that the Trust has provided for a number of years, and we are extremely grateful for the continued support enabling it to happen!
If you would like to donate online, then you can use our CAF Donate page at the following link :
The Whitworth Trust warmly invites you to a GARDEN PARTY! We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Whitworth House, which provides accommodation for vulnerable and homeless women in Cambridge.
We are very grateful to the Master of Magdalene College for hosting us for the evening.
TIME & DATE :: Saturday 14th July // 19:30-22:30
VENUE: The Master's Garden, Magdalene College
TICKETS :: we're asking for a suggested minimum donation of £30 PER PARTY-GOER. The party will be 'May Ball' style, and so this amount will cover unlimited drinks, food, and live music for the evening!
You can reserve a ticket for this glorious event by emailing us :: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations for tickets can be made in advance of the evening by cash, cheque or by bank transfer (details on request). Donations can also be made in cash on the night.
FACEBOOK EVENT:: https://www.facebook.com/events/2109968632570321/
Our annual general meeting will be held on Saturday 14th July 2018 at Magdalene College, Cambridge, at 6PM.
All are welcome!
The exact room location in Magdalene is tbc.
Join us for a lively evening of music and dancing in the impressive gothic surrounds of St Giles' Church.
~ FROM THE 1st MAY, THE FRIENDS OF WHITWORTH HOUSE’ WILL BECOME ‘THE WHITWORTH TRUST’ ~
‘The Friends of Whitworth House’ was founded some 20 years ago, by a group of women who wanted to provide for the need of homeless young women in Cambridge, for which there was a serious lack of provision. Money was raised to buy and establish a suitable house, Whitworth House, which is now owned and managed as supported social housing by Orwell Housing Association. “The Friends” continue to support the House in various ways, notably recently by raising over £100,000 to support an extension to the House to give a halfway-house to independent living.
Since the new Trustees of “The Friends” took over in March 2016, we have been reviewing the work of the charity. The need to support Whitworth House continues, of course, but in addition we are very aware of the great shortage of provision for street-dwelling women in the cold winter months in Cambridge, and the very great difficulty former residents of Whitworth House have in finding affordable move-on accommodation in such a high rent area. We plan to extend the charity’s work to assist in these two areas in particular, and have already gone into partnership with Jimmy’s Cambridge on a project that will provide independent move-on accommodation for two homeless women in the city.
The current objects clause of the charity reads:
The objects of the Charity are the relief of poverty; more particularly amongst young women normally resident in the City and County of Cambridge needing supported residential accommodation such as that provided by Whitworth House or similar institutions.
This does give us some latitude, but at our recent AGM we voted to make the wide remit of our charity more explicit, by amending it to read as follows:
‘The objects of the Charity are the relief of poverty; more particularly amongst women normally resident in the City and County of Cambridge:
i) needing supported residential accommodation for young women such as that provided by Whitworth House
ii) needing other assistance and support in finding and securing secure and affordable accommodation’.
In accordance with this widening of the role, those present at the AGM also voted to rename the charity “The Whitworth Trust”. Doing so allows us to retain the link both with the House and with the Whitworth family, who are still strong supporters of the Charity.
This name change has been approved by the charity commission, and it will come into effect on 1st May.
At our AGM we said goodbye to two very special and long-serving members of our committee: secretary Ank Rigelsford, and chairwoman Sarah Martin.
Sarah (pictured below, on the left) and Ank have done so very much for the Friends over the last ten years, and we thank them heartily for their generosity and energy!
Tim Wheatley, another very special and long-serving member of the committee, is staying with us for the time being --- not least to help us ensure a smooth transition over to the new group. Tim stepped down from his role as treasurer at the AGM, but we thank him for his wisdom and his commitment to our cause!