About us

For over 20 years, Jimmy’s has been providing help for the homeless in Cambridge.
We work with the local Community, Volunteers and Partner agencies to deliver 24/7
emergency accommodation and supported housing for those who would otherwise
be homeless or vulnerably housed.

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1995 - Jimmy’s opens

Jimmy’s opens its doors and Cambridge’s first all-year-round night shelter is born.

We’re often asked where our name came from. Jim Dilley was a known rough sleeper in the region who spent many of his nights under the bridge at junction 13 on the M11. Being hard of hearing meant he managed to get some sleep despite the noise.

Joan and Richard, Jimmy’s founders, knew him well and made it their mission to prevent others from suffering a similar plight.

Our charity was aptly named in his memory and his story inspired the bridge in our logo.

Our first guests arrive

Down in the basement of the Zion Baptist Church, five shared dorms slept up to six people in bunk beds.

Although it was a bit cramped at times, our first guests were off the streets and kept warm, dry and well-fed.

Thanks to the commitment of staff and countless volunteers, funding from local authorities and donations from the supportive community, it stayed this way for well over a decade.

2008 - Full refurbishment

In 2008 funding was granted for a full refurbishment.

Successful in our bid to Communities & Local Government, we were awarded a significant sum to transform our confined night shelter into a spacious, four storey 24-hour service with 20 single occupancy en-suite rooms, and extensive facilities for day time support activities

In 2010 building work begins.

Cambridge City Council generously gave us extra funding to ‘decant’ into temporary premises on the other side of the church basement. Meanwhile, the building works began.

2012 - A new kind of service

The last lick of paint completed and the final piece of furniture unpacked, we were proud to reveal Jimmy’s Assessment Centre: a modern, refurbished premises providing much more than a bed for the night.

Engaging daytime activities not only keeping our guests off the streets, but focusing on resettlement, life skills training and achieving long term, positive outcomes – not just short term support.  

A royal seal of approval

We were honoured to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to officially open the new assessment centre, in a ceremony we’ll never forget.

William and Kate then toured the new facilities, taking time to talk with our guests, volunteers and staff.  

Where we are now

We’re proud of our past and hopeful for our future.

We’ve successfully taken on the Controlled Drinking Project at 451 Newmarket Road and continue to grow our move on provision so more pathways away from homeless are made available.

Whilst more are in need and accessing our Assessment Centre, we’re working harder to keep people off the streets and continue to make a very real difference to people’s lives from the moment they walk through the door.

What the future holds

Whatever the future holds, we will continue to offer our dedication, kindness and support to all our those who come to Jimmy’s for our help - and we will uphold the belief and values that Richard and Joan Howlett and The Rev Tony and Gill Barker held, whose drive, vision and hard work made Jimmy’s a reality, and has created a lasting legacy; and, of course, in memory of  Jim Dilley

Governance board

Overseeing the work we undertake here at Jimmy's, we have a governance board of volunteer trustees. Coming for all backgrounds in life we have financial, HR, Communications, Volunteer, Safeguarding leads along with a Company Secretary.

Chaired by Jane Mann (pictured) the board meet 4 times a year, with steering groups underneath the main board to assist in governance and strategic direction. For more information please visit the Charity Commission website.

I only want one simple thing: somewhere to live - everyone takes it so for granted, but once you have that everything else falls into place