Is society big enough for homeless people? Find out more and pledge your support: Action Week 27 June - 3 July 2011
Every year St Mungo's focuses on a single issue that is holding back the recovery of homeless people. This year we are fighting for homeless people's right to be supported into work.
Currently only 4% of our clients are in work. Twenty-five years ago 86% were in work. The world has changed and homeless people have been left behind without the support they need to work. Homeless people face many barriers to work including their lack of basic skills (such as being able to read and write), poor physical and mental health and lack of confidence resulting from years our of the labour market.
Day two of Action Week saw the launch of St Mungo's Action Week report, Work Matters, at the Houses of Parliament. The report written by think tank Demos, looked at the problems homeless people face getting into work and gave recommendations for a new two step 'back to work' approach. We also published our Action Week campaign summary report - Just the Job.
It can be a long journey into employment for some homeless people but we believe its one they should be properly supported on. Currently our clients do not feel supported by mainstream Government services like Jobcentre Plus, but, when they access our services and other specialist they rate them highly as part of their journey back to work.
Maria Miller, The Department for Work and Pensions Minister with responsibility for homelessness, who spoke at the reception, praised St Mungo's and expressed her interest in visiting one of our projects, with more MPs also wishing to arrange visits. As a further result, we'll be meeting with relevant Ministers, officials from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and key sector partners to work with them on implementing our recommendations.
To improve how the Jobcentre works with homeless people, we'll be inviting their staff to our hostels to help them gain a greater understanding of the support homeless and vulnerable people need in getting back to work. Our staff will also benefit by learning how staff at Jobcentre Plus work.
Our campaigning didn't stop there. Our policy seminar, attended by Richard Blakeway, the Mayor's Director of Housing included speakers from St Mungo's Apprenticeship Scheme, DWP and BIS. It was a valuable event which provoked some thoughtful discussion about the implications of our Work Matters report and the future support needed for those furthest from the labour market. Further events and government papers are in the pipeline.