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Christmas Newsletter 2017 & Festive Opening Times

Merry Christmas! Find our annual Christmas Newsletter, a letter from our Chief Executive Karin Woodley reflecting on the highlights of 2017 below!

Our building will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day December and open 27th, 28th and 29th December from 09:00 to 17:00. If venue hire customers wish to book outside these times, please contact Reception on 0207 358 7000 or at and we will accommodate you as best we can.

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Campaign: Stop families losing their homes this Christmas

Hundreds of working families will be illegally kicked out of their homes by rogue landlords this Christmas. We need your help now to raise £10,000 to do something about it.

Safer Renting is an intelligence-led initiative by Cambridge House that works. We find the people most at risk and intervene quickly before they lose their home. And we’re the only people in London doing it.

Just £100 is all it takes to intervene in a crisis and keep a family in their home when they’re most at risk, and we can’t do it without your help.

Homelessness is getting out of control, and Christmas is the very worst time to lose your home. Without your urgent support and Cambridge House’s help, hundreds more hard working families will be left to suffer, kicked out of their homes by criminal landlords.

We’re working round the clock to keep people in their homes and your money will go directly to help the people and working families who deserve to have Christmas at home, not on the streets or trapped in a slum.

£10,000 will keep 100 families in their homes and tackle 100 criminal landlords – now that’s a Christmas present.

We’ve got 2 weeks to reach our target – help us make the difference this Christmas.

You can help by clicking here.

Read about the people we help on our blog.

Notes to editors

  1. For interviews and more information please contact: Rob Anderson, Fundraising & Development Coordinator 0207 358 7006, Project leads Roz Spencer and Ben Reeves-Lewis, as seen on Channel’s 4’s Dispatches on rogue landlords, are available for interview.
  2. Safer Renting designs and supports pathways out of slum rentals for tenants, providing advocacy and support. We help people leave criminal landlords on their own terms and prevent homelessness. We also influence social policy to create better conditions for renters and to drive slum landlords out of business. Safer Renting is a Cambridge House project.
  3. Cambridge House is a social action centre and charity based in Southwark, London. We’ve delivered vital services from our historic building for 128 years. Today we provide frontline services that tackle social exclusion by enabling people to move out of crisis and towards independence. While working across London we remain firmly rooted in our local community. We provide a focal point for local communities and civic activity, offering low-cost office spaces to local civil society organisations and low-cost community space to 30,000 people every year. Chief Executive, Karin Woodley, is available for interview.
  4. Cambridge House is a registered charity no 265103.

The closure of Lambeth County Court has become a dangerous farce

Credit to secretlondon123. Used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Credit to secretlondon123.

Lambeth County Court,  one of the busiest housing court in the country, was due to close last week as part of the Ministry of Justice’s court closure programme. Late last Friday, our solicitors were informed that the Court was staying open for at least another month; the court staff had only found out that morning. The chaos around the Court is putting families at risk of homelessness and denying them access to justice.

When the plan to close Lambeth County Court was first announced, Cambridge House along with Southwark and Lambeth Law Centres advocated against the decision to close the court, highlighting the substantial barriers to justice that closing the court would create for poorer clients across South London. Under the proposed plans, court users will be expected to travel much further to attend and at considerable cost; for example, a person in South Norwood may have to travel to Old Street, a £10 return. A single person’s basic Universal Credit allowance is £79 per week; attending a hearing then could consume more than 10% of their weekly budget. The decision appears to be administratively driven and with little thought given to users of the court, especially those vulnerable clients most in need of accessible justice.

With this latest twist, the closure of the court has descended from a short sighted cost-cutting exercise to dangerous farce. We have seen many different letters relating to court hearings, all citing different venues. These cases are not trivial – vulnerable people with low incomes attending court to try and keep a roof over the heads, sometimes against unscrupulous or negligent landlords. Thanks to this confusion, there can be no doubt that there will be more evictions and more people will become homeless. People will attend the wrong court, arrive late or not attend at all, thanks to the cost, because they can’t get time off work, or simply because they’ve given up hope. Some will make deals with their landlords to avoid court, which will doubtless to lead to eviction/homelessness in the end.

It is vital that people seek legal advice as soon as they receive any court notification, as Legal Aid is still available for housing possession cases, and that they are able to attend court. We reiterate our response to the closure plans and urge the Ministry of Justice to reconsider the decision to close Lambeth County Court. 

Local Couple Support Cambridge House!

We’re saying a huge thank you (and congratulations) to Kathryn and Iain, two local residents who are getting married this month and supporting Cambridge House!

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Kathryn and Iain, star Camberwell residents.

They have shown amazing generosity and inspiring commitment to our local community by inviting their wedding guests to donate to our work tackling poverty and social exclusion in Southwark. Showing amazing community spirit, Kathryn and Iain are not only supporting us but are holding the ceremony locally with locally sourced catering and flowers! What stars!

We feel so lucky to have their support, and wish them all the very best for the coming wedding and for their future together. If you’d like to make a donation in support of Kathryn and Ian, you can do it safely and quickly online here:

Cambridge House adds voice to calls for government to crack down on rogue landlords

Cambridge House supports Sir Robin Wales’ plea to government to support Newham Council’s bid to continue their scheme which is cracking down on rogue landlords.

Our Safer Renting project sees the human toll of landlord offending through our work on the frontline with London councils’ residential licensing schemes. Families with children are being locked out of their homes and their belongings destroyed, they share toilets, shower and kitchen with complete strangers, and face daily danger from fire, electrocution, cold, damp, and infection from pest infestation.

All of this is heartbreaking to witness: consider also that this abuse doesn’t come cheap. Even rents on such death-trap properties are increasingly beyond the reach of people on average incomes, as more than two-thirds of the Capital is now unaffordable to people on less than £30,000 a year.

This is because, ultimately, landlord offending is about money; people are exploiting the lack of enforcement and high housing demand to extract huge sums in return for dangerous housing that is unfit for human habitation. Our work enables tenants to use the law to protect themselves against illegal eviction and against landlords who don’t repair their properties. But even with our support tenants often suffer because they have no rights against landlords who construct and let out substandard homes like the “beds in sheds” so common in boroughs such as Newham. 

All this could be changed if MPs support Karen Buck MP’s Private Members’ Bill ‘Homes (Fitness for Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards)’ now going back before Parliament. The Bill was shamefully voted down last year because many landlord MPs voting against measures ensuring that privately rented homes are fit for human habitation.

 Karen Buck’s Bill is desperately needed to strengthen tenants’ rights. Supported by increase resources for local authority enforcement, the bill could enable the worst abuse to be stamped out through licensing schemes and services such as Safer Renting that provide tenancy rights advocacy to protect victims and deter landlord offending.

We’re hiring! Leadership, Advocacy and Development roles available

We’re recruiting for three talented and committed people to join our team tackling poverty and social exclusion!

We have two positions available in our Leadership and Advocacy Teams, and a paid internship position available in our Development Team. Whether you’re just starting out in your third sector career or are an experienced and creative leader looking for a new challenge, these roles are a fantastic opportunity to join a frontline social action centre working innovatively to tackle the social and economic challenges of today.

We’re looking for flexible and motivated people who are committed to our mission and values and who want to change society for the better:

  • Director of Quality and Service Development
  • Advocacy Manager
  • Fundraising and Development Intern (Paid)

For information on how to apply, click here

As an organisation we are particularly keen to ensure that our staff reflect the diverse nature of the community in which we work. We value diversity and warmly welcome applications from disabled people, the LGBTQ communities and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Cambridge House Veteran Wins Prestigious Southwark Civic Award


Our longest-serving staff member, Beryl Peckham, has been honoured at the Southwark Civic Awards 2017!

We’re proud to announce that Law Centre Administrator and Cambridge House stalwart Beryl Peckham will be honoured at the Southwark Civic Awards 2017 with the Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell. The award recognises Beryl’s exceptional contribution to Southwark over her 29 years at Cambridge House Law Centre where she has worked tirelessly to support the provision of free, expert legal advice and representation.

Over the years Beryl has played a galvanising role in the development of the Law Centre, especially in the face of increased demand and shrinking supply of advisors. Despite these challenges, we have become one of the most successful Law Centres in the country, thanks in no small part to Beryl’s service.

Beryl has been steadfast in her devotion to Cambridge House, her local community and to the wider legal and advice giving sector. She has taken the lead in the development of reception services for the whole organisation and the Law Centre. Her professionalism is exemplary. She is the caring and empathetic face of the organisation and visitors who often arrive with difficult and complex problems, ensuring they receive a warm and sympathetic welcome. Clients are reassured by her down-to-earth manner, often commenting on how good it is to be greeted by someone who is clearly a local and reflects the wider community. She is selfless in giving her time to other Law Centres and, despite her own workload, has provided financial and administrative advice to other Law Centres.

Beryl’s lifetime of devotion and service to her borough and its citizens, to Cambridge House, to the Law Centre and to the wider advice giving sector is undoubtedly worthy of reward and recognition, and we are thrilled that she has been recognised for her outstanding contribution.


Gentrification, Displacement and the Impact of Estate Renewal: Research Launch

Cambridge House hosts the launch of an ESRC-funded major research project into the impacts of gentrification, displacement and estate regeneration on London

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Stakeholders and guests discuss the ongoing issues around estates regeneration in London.

On February 17th 2017, Cambridge House hosted stakeholders from a range of sectors and backgrounds to introduce the planned research and to discuss the Greater London Authority’s draft good practice guidance on estates regeneration (which can be found here).

The research will address gaps in knowledge about gentrification, displacement and the impacts of council estate renewal in London. Working closely with tenants groups and other local stakeholders, the research will combine large -scale statistical analysis to measure the scale and patterns of gentrification and associated displacement of working/servicing class populations from London with more intensive, case study methods to document the impacts of urban renewal schemes on individual estates, their residents, the communities across the Southeast to which they are being displaced, and the new ‘mixed’ communities emerging on redeveloped council estates in London.

The project investigators from the University of Leicester and Kings College London presented their plans to the project stakeholders and special guests, who fed back with a broad range of insights and knowledge. The afternoon session consisted of a lively and productive roundtable discussion of the GLA’s draft guidance on estates regeneration. Represented stakeholders and guests included:

  • Just Space
  • London Tenants Federation
  • The GLA
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Platform 7
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • GLA Green Party Assembly Member Sian Berry
  • Clarion Housing Group
  • Jericho Solutions
  • Local tenants, including previous tenants of the Heygate Estate, Southwark
  • Academic Advisers from the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, and Birkbeck (University of London)
  • Local Councillors (Southwark, Tottenham, Battersea)

Learn more about the research here.

Cambridge House is on Instagram!

We’re on Instagram – find us @cambridgehouse 1889!

We’ve got more going on at Cambridge House than most people can keep track of, including a lot of gorgeous and exciting visual arts and exciting project activities! Check out our Instagram account for some stunning shots of our services and our users’ work:

Follow us to keep up with our projects and enjoy beautiful work from the users of our 19Plus creative arts and social club for adults with a learning disability (see more here at their blog:, our Wednesday and Saturday Arts Clubs, and from a whole host of our other programmes.