YOUR help is needed to raise funds for Ferry Project night shelter in Wisbech and save it from closure

PUBLISHED: 12:14 13 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:14 13 March 2014

Staff and volunteers at the Ferry Project in Wisbech.

Staff and volunteers at the Ferry Project in Wisbech.


The race is on to save a lifeline night shelter for homeless people in Wisbech - and today we appeal to you to help raise funds to keep it open.

A factsheet by the Ferry Project showing the gender, nationality and age of people supported by the night shelter in 2013 - and how those people were supported to rebuild their lives. A factsheet by the Ferry Project showing the gender, nationality and age of people supported by the night shelter in 2013 - and how those people were supported to rebuild their lives.

The night shelter run was set up three years ago by The Ferry Project, but with Government subsidies due to run out at the end of the month £65,000 is needed to keep it going until Christmas.

Fenland District Council has provided £5,000 and The Ferry Project is now appealing through this newspaper to charitable trusts, companies with a local presence and the public to help provide the shortfall needed to keep the emergency service open.

Keith Smith, director of the Ferry Project, said: “The Ferry Project has never gone to the local community because we wanted to earn our own income and not be a drain on the community.

“But the service is so important and such an asset to Fenland that we feel we have no choice.

Keith Smith Keith Smith

“We urgently need help to save this night shelter. £65,000 will get us through to Christmas. If we can do that it will give us more time to find more funding pots and sustain the night shelter into the future.”

Last year the night shelter helped 145 people in need, from 12 nationalities. Sixty of those people supported were British - more than any other nationality.

More than 40 people found employment, while more than 50 became involved in voluntary work. But each person was provided the support they needed to rebuild their lives.

Mr Smith added: “Eighty per cent of clients of the night shelter do not return. I hope people have noticed in the last five years that there has been a significant reduction in the number of homeless people on the streets in Wisbech.”

Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech. One of the night shelter bedrooms. Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech. One of the night shelter bedrooms.

For more information on how to help provide support, call the Ferry Project on 01945 429300 or email

The night shelter was created by a working party involving MP Steve Barclay, Fenland District Council, Wisbech Town Council, the police, voluntary groups and local churches.

It costs £130,000 a year to run the night shelter in Norfolk Street, Wisbech – which equates to £40 a person per night. People who use the shelter get a bed, breakfast, supper and advice from a support worker who will help in the right direction.

Fenland District Council has agreed that the shelter can claim housing benefit payments – the best part of £35,000 a year. But that is not enough to survive

Under threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech Under threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech

The Ferry Project has looked at ways of funding the shelter itself as it is a social enterprise - it is in the early stages of creating a printing business.

This week, the printing business was awarded £24,300 of grant funding to train additional night staff and to purchase some new equipment.

But it is not expected to be fully operational for at least 18 months - and as a result the Ferry Project can not yet solely rely on its income to run the night shelter.

Mr Smith said: “We have a short-term problem – how do we find the money now to keep going to get to the stage where the printing business can fund the shelter.

How you can help

Over the coming weeks, we will bring you examples of how the night shelter has supported people from all backgrounds who were left with nowhere else to turn.

In the meantime, you can hold events to raise funds - from coffee mornings to table-top sales, prize raffles to non-uniform days at your place of work or your child’s school.

Tell us if you do arrange an event - e-mail outlining details of your event. And don’t forget to tell us afterwards how much you raised.

“For the last few months we have been approaching all the agencies we deal with for support.

“We have been getting very friendly comments that our work is appreciated; however in the current economic climate they are not able to help us.

“We don’t need £65,000 tomorrow. It’s not like we need the money in the bank. If we got £10,000 in the next few weeks, it will keep the shelter open for another month.”


  • 5K for the homeless 50K to change a name says it all. FDC councillors when you come out of your next meeting for get your car for a while, go and sit in some cold shop doorway and ponder the problems if it was your home, you don't have chance of a job as you do not have an address but at least you get a warm when you go in to beg for your benefits. Alternatively jump in the car and travel in comfort to the welcoming warmth of your home saying its their fault drink drugs their choice !. Tar them all with same brush, but some councilors are crooks and thieves would the same apply, I think not.

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    Saturday, March 15, 2014

  • The Ferry Project Night Shelter is vital and unique local resource, saving people not just from Wisbech but across the whole of Fenland, in their times of most desperate need, from the uncertainty of having to survive on the street, or being forced to seek similar emergency help in Peterborough or Cambridge, with no guarantee of actually getting help there, as such services are always offered on a 'first come, first served' basis. It is well known that Fenland, and especially Wisbech has a disproportionate level of social needs compared to most other parts of Cambridgeshire, and a significant number of the people helped by the Ferry Project, also have long-standing mental health problems, putting them at particular risk when other social support options break down. It is a terrible shame that Government funding has come to an end but such a worthy cause should qualify for alternative grant funding if that is the intended alternative means of funding the facility. Loss of the facility would be a disaster for Fenland. Support from the Cambs TimesWisbech Standard, and the people of Fenland, is a crucial lifeline for the Night Shelter, at this time, exactly as this article explains, so all donations will definitely be very gratefully received, and of incalculable benefit to some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and to those, such as myself, working in mental health and associated support agencies who have come to rely on the priceless support given by the Ferry Project.

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    Graham Chappell

    Friday, March 14, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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