Our history

In 1969 a group of volunteers decided to do something to help homeless people

Today, by working with our clients, partners and supporters, St Mungo’s helps thousands of people across London and the south of England. But our beginnings were much more humble.

In 1969 a group of volunteers decided to do something to help homeless people sleeping rough on the streets of London. They started small, pushing a pram loaded with food, delivering sustenance to those who needed it.

Not everyone was happy with the group handing out food to people on the streets. Pressed on who they were, the group replied, “St Mungo’s” – the nickname for Saint Kentigern, patron saint of Glasgow and wandering Celts. As Charles Fraser, our former Chief Executive, told the Guardian, “a Christian saint's name would stop police hassling workers on soup runs - they thought they were reverends."

From there, the group managed to secure their first hostel to accommodate people sleeping rough – a former Marmite factory in Vauxhall, south London.

In the years since then, St Mungo’s has been working to end homelessness, and has been on the frontline of delivering services to keep people healthy, housed and hopeful.

It was St Mungo’s who set up many of the revolutionary services that are now commonplace in the homelessness sector, including the first specialist project solely for mentally ill rough sleepers; the first specialist project solely for rough sleepers who drink heavily; the only specialist project solely for elderly rough sleepers and, more recently, the first Recovery College in the homelessness sector.

But while our history is important to us, our focus is on the challenges of the present. Each night in England over 4,000 people sleep rough on the streets; people in need of food, shelter and hope.

We need the support of people like you to carry on our vital work into the future, so that together, we can end homelessness and help people to truly fulfill their hopes and ambitions.