Cambridge women’s hostel to be shut down by council

Whitworth House, a hostel for vulnerable women, is threatened with closure

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After a housing review by the County Council Commissioners, it has been announced that Whitworth House will no longer receive funding.

The hostel is currently home to 15 women, who will have to move out by June.

In response to the news, several residents have spoken out about how the hostel has changed their lives.

Alba Asensi, 27, spoke of how the hostel "probably saved my life. I have nothing but praise for Whitworth House". After two stays in the hostel, Alba now has a job and her own house, which she credits the organisation for.

An anonymous teenager at the hostel spoke of her reaction to the news. "This decision has broken me….this place has got me out of some dark places and staff have been amazing….if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have stayed on my college course".

Whitworth House was founded 20 years ago after a YWCA housing review showed that there was no support for young homeless women in Cambridge: the only all-women hostel at the time was aimed at older women. Since then, it has helped hundreds of women to recover from various traumas and difficulties, as well as equipping them with skills and confidence for work.

The county funding review declared that the hostel was "not… significantly different to anything else in the local area" and claimed that there was currently "an over-provision of services for young people in the Cambridge City area".

Whitworth House have requested a full critique of the decision, and a petition has been started by residents, which has gained over 1000 signatures over the past ten days.

Cover image source: Ardfern, licence.