Flagship homelessness service opened by HRH The Duke of Kent

    Staff and clients of leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s welcomed a very special guest to their Grange Road service when His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent visited to officially open the recently refurbished project.

    His Royal Highness, who is Patron of St Mungo’s, visited last week (21 March) and was given a tour of the building which is located in Southwark, London, before meeting residents and workers.

    With funding from St Mungo’s, the City of London Corporation and the Greater London Authority, the Grange Road site has been completely refurbished to reflect St Mungo’s ethos that the design and quality of buildings and the principles of Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) support clients as they recover from homelessness.

    The service delivery is funded by the City Corporation, and expands the range of accommodation, support and routes away from homelessness for those who have slept rough in the Square Mile.

    Emma Haddad, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s said: ‘’The transformation of Grange Road is an excellent example of what can be achieved by collaborative partnership working between St Mungo’s, the City of London Corporation and the Greater London Authority.

    “At St Mungo’s it’s not just about getting people off the streets and into a bed, it’s also about providing an environment to recover. The last two years of hard work has resulted in this amazing flagship facility which will help support hundreds of clients for years to come.

    “It was so wonderful that His Royal Highness was able to come and officially open the service and to spend some time with residents and staff.”

    Grange Road resident Darren, who met with The Duke during his visit, said: “I’d been on the streets for two years before coming here, I was offered a room by St Mungo’s during the recent cold weather.

    “It was a blessing, it is so nice to have somewhere clean and safe to stay. I really like my room, it’s great to have my own personal space.

    “It was nice to meet His Royal Highness, it’s a bit different for me to be chatting to a member of The Royal Family!”

    Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community and Children’s Services Committee, Ruby Syed, said: “We are proud to invest £700,000 every year in the new Grange Road hostel, which is helping some of the Square Mile’s most vulnerable rough sleepers with complex needs.

    “Working with our partners we are helping more people than ever before, supporting rough sleepers into long term accommodation, and providing access to mental health services, GP registrations, and dental care.”

    Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development at the Greater London Authority, Tom Copley, said: “I am delighted that we’ve been able to help St Mungo’s to transform their flagship Grange Road service to better support homeless Londoners on their recovery journey.

    “The Mayor and I are committed to tackling rough sleeping and through the hard work of Our City Hall team and charity partners we’ve managed to help a record 13,500 people as we work to build a fairer London for all.”

    The new Grange Road facility includes a welcoming reception area, a choice of environments for staff and clients to interact in including confidential meeting rooms, break out spaces, training, communal areas and occasional dining areas.

    There is a work zone, staff administration and wellbeing areas, two gardens, as well as 29 refurbished bed spaces some of which are en-suite with kitchenettes.

    The new service will provide psychological and trauma informed support to clients with multiple needs who require intense and personalised support to positively progress as they recover from homelessness.

    The service welcomed its first clients in November 2022 and currently accommodates 29 people.

    Shining a light on women’s homelessness

    Shining a light on women's homelessness

    This month, we’ve launched Visible Women. A new campaign which aims shine a light on women’s homelessness, and help women access the support they need.

    Kate, Women's Recovery Coordinator

    “I lead Safe Space – a project that looks at new ways to help some of the most vulnerable women in our services. Specifically, women experiencing multiple disadvantage including sexual exploitation, violence and abuse.”

    “We want to build trust, and remove barriers to accessing talking therapy. By bringing specialised support directly to them.”

    "We’ve found that these women have a wide range of support needs, but they do share two key things. An experience of trauma and a lack of trust in services."

    “Almost all of the women we’re working with would otherwise struggle to access this kind of help. Because of the complex trauma they have experienced, attending appointments and structured sessions is a barrier.

    “Many of the women we work with are drug and alcohol dependent and this too can exclude them from traditional services.”

    Maria, Psychotherapist

    “The service is unique because it draws on all the knowledge we’ve gained through the Safe Space project, and there are no formal referrals or assessments.

    “I’ll start by going to a hostel and introducing myself. I let the women know that I’ll be there on certain days and times. If they’re interested, they can choose whether they want to do drop-ins, or have a set appointment. Flexibility is really important.

    “If someone doesn’t feel comfortable talking at the hostel, we’ll go out. It’s all about giving back choice and control. They can take their time to get to know me before digging deeper into things.”

    "Psychotherapy can look very different for everyone, it’s very client led. Most clients will tell me what their goals are. It might be moving out, or having their own place. Then we’ll start working on goals that are closer, or thinking about what actions they need to take to get there."

    “Another big part of what we do is networking with other services and empowering women to advocate for themselves. To ask for what they need.

    “We are often present during meetings with other services or staff, and the client will speak for themselves.”

    "When we first started the project, we thought that we would have to really work hard to get women to get involved. But the appetite for this is massive. We’ve got lots of ambitious ideas for the future and we want to reach as many women as possible."

    Meet Sophia

    “I used to sleep behind the police station in Hounslow to keep safe. During the day, I sat on the tube, riding back and forth from Cockfosters to Heathrow.

    “As a woman, you get a lot of people offering you money for sexual favours. Some men out there, they’ll see a vulnerable woman and use that to their advantage. I’ve seen it happen to people and it’s not nice.”

    "But St Mungo’s supported me. They got me some clothes, they got me some food and they said ‘you’re safe now."

    Read Sophia’s full story here. Find out more about women’s homelessness on our Visible Women page.

    Grange Road service gets a glow up

    We’ve been commissioned by City of London to provide a high needs support service in the borough of Southwark, and we’re pleased to announce that doors to our Grange Road service opened just a few months ago.

    But it’s more than just a lick of paint – the space has been redesigned with the principles of Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) in mind. This means that the environment takes into account people’s previous experiences, and how these can impact their future recovery and development.

    By providing a safe, inclusive and therapeutic space, we are able to support clients in addressing traumatic experiences they might have had.

    Inside our Grange Road service

    Service Development Manager, Jack, explains:

    “We’re going to be supporting a very diverse, complex group of clients at this service. They might have experienced severe trauma, substance and alcohol use, mental health issues, or prison.

    To give them the best chance, it’s really important that we get them into an environment like this.

    “The hostel consists of a number of open plan spaces, which you don’t always get at a standard hostel.

    “I’ve previously managed hostels where the rooms are quite small. And if clients are coming out of prison, or another institution, it can be a trigger for them.

    “Our rooms are spacious and bright, and we’ve tried to offer as many self-contained rooms as possible, with their own desks, kitchenettes and private bathrooms.

    “To support the 29 clients who are living [at Grange Road], we have a large staff team and robust staffing structure in place. This consists of three staff members being on shift at any time. Day or night, seven days a week. This is to ensure that we are able to provide high levels of support and increase positive interactions with clients. We also have an in house psychologist who attends once a week.”

    “We even have a medical room, where nurses and GP’s will be able to hold clinics. It can be hard enough to get a doctor’s appointment, let alone when you’re experiencing homelessness. So we’re making that process easier by bringing it all in house.”

    Take a tour around Grange Road

    Space to breathe

    We have found that 69% of our clients have a mental health problem that hinders their recovery from homelessness, or causes them distress. Very often, these people need bespoke services, and a dedicated space to recover.

    We run dedicated mental health services, to give people who need extra support the best chance of recovery.

    One of our South London services includes 12 self-contained flats for adults with complex and long term mental health needs. People often stay here after spending some time in hospital, when conventional supported housing can’t meet their needs.

    Complete with a large communal living area and garden, our staff are there to provide any support that clients want or need. From practical daily living skills, to employment and education. As well as recreational activities like gardening, jewellery making, and even karaoke!

    Sheila and Channan share their experiences of living here.

    “We aim to make this a very therapeutic place to be, with a focus on providing highly personalised support. We see a really low level of hospital admissions, which is a huge leap forward for some clients and something to be celebrated. We often get compliments from clients and their families about how well they are doing here.”

    "I deal with things a lot better" - Sheila

    “Since moving here, I deal with things a lot better than I did. I went through a long period of time where I was in the hospital frequently.

    “But now, I feel much better. It’s been a really long time since I was last admitted. And I think a huge amount of that is due to the staff here. I get along well with them all and I feel they’re really devoted to their jobs.

    “The staff can give you a lot of input when you need it. And then when you’re well you don’t need it so much, they’ll step back a bit. You’ll still get to see them throughout the day, but they won’t intrude on your privacy.

    “I’ve loved being here and I’m hoping to move on soon. But it’s hard because what I need is not very common. Although my mental health improving, I’m always going to need help for my physical health. St Mungo’s are helping me look for somewhere suitable.”

    “It’s settled my mind” – Channan

    “Before I arrived, I’d been in the psych ward for about five months. I even had to spend my 21st and Christmas there! I had been waiting for the right accommodation, but finally, I was able to move in.

    “There were a lot of activities for us to do too. Like gardening, painting and art, jewellery making, walking club, and even karaoke. The activities coordinators were quite helpful with finding out what we wanted to do and getting us engaged.

    “They supported me with planning my weeks every week, because that was one of the things I struggled with and was a trigger for me.

    “I have a lot of health issues as well. So when I had appointments or had to go in for surgery they’d support me to go.

    “I was able to get a job at a care home for people with dementia. And if I do need support, I’m better at speaking to someone and getting help instead of going down a risky road.

    “It’s also helped me to get used to spending time alone. I knew the staff were always there to support me, but having my own flat helped me to have that independence and love my own company.

    “I’ve rebuilt my relationship with my mum, who I’ve moved back in with. And I’m excited to have found out I’m pregnant, and that I’ll have mum’s support to raise my baby.”

    “I’m thankful for St Mungo’s and for this place, because without it I wouldn’t be where I am today. The last two years could have gone very differently. They’ve really helped me to get back on track.”

    St Mungo’s: This is a missed opportunity to alleviate impending homelessness crisis

    Leading charity St Mungo’s has described the failure to heed advice from frontline experts aimed at averting a homelessness crisis as a ‘serious error’.

    Today (15 March 2023) the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP unveiled his Spring Budget but despite calls from across the homelessness sector there was little specific support for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

    St Mungo’s has urged the Government to increase Local Housing Allowance which would help those in private rented accommodation to afford their rents. It would also increase the number of properties affordable to people moving on from temporary accommodation such as homelessness hostels.

    However, this was not included in today’s announcement.

    Reacting to the budget, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, Emma Haddad said: “The number of people sleeping rough in England is increasing, the number of people in temporary accommodation in England is increasing, the number of people seriously at risk of losing their home is increasing, and the number of additional people our teams are seeing end up on the streets because of the cost of living is increasing. But what is not increasing is acknowledgement of the urgency of the situation.

    “As one of the leading providers of homelessness services in the country we are seeing the impact of the cost of living crisis daily, and we are deeply concerned. Along with our colleagues across the sector, we gave our expert advice about what should be done to avert an impending homelessness crisis and stop the number of people pushed into homelessness continuing to rise. The failure to include any specific support for homelessness in this budget is a serious error.

    “But, whatever comes, St Mungo’s teams will continue to be there every day for those experiencing homelessness.”

    The Chancellor did commit to providing £100m to ‘local’ charities to support people struggling with the current cost of living, although further details of the allocation process have yet to be released.

    Other measures announced included bringing the cost of energy paid for via pre-payment meters in line with the cost when paid for by direct debit, and a continuation of the domestic energy price cap for the next three months.

    In addition the Government announced that the Work Capability Assessment will be abolished which it says will allow people who claim disability benefit to be able to seek work without loss of benefits.

    St Mungo’s makes reality of women’s homelessness ‘visible’ with new social media campaign

    To mark International Women’s Day (Wednesday 8 March) leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s is highlighting the reality of homelessness for women.

    The charity has created a range of content which it will share on social media which illustrate some of the ways women adapt to being homeless and how it can lead to them being ‘hidden’ from official statistics. The posts feature the real-life experiences of some of the charity’s female clients.

    According to the most recent figures only 15% of people rough sleeping across England on a typical night in 2022 were women, but we know many are hidden from the statistics.

    Women’s homelessness often occurs after prolonged experiences of trauma, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse by those closest to them. Violence and abuse are both a cause and consequence of women’s homelessness, with women experiencing further abuse, exploitation and violence while homeless.

    Jill Thursby, Women and Domestic Abuse Lead, St Mungo’s, said: “People often think of homelessness as a men’s issue, but we have found women also experience homelessness and face the additional burden of gender-based violence and abuse when on the streets.

    “We know many women are ‘hidden homeless’ as it’s dangerous to be visible so they may seek shelter somewhere, squat or sofa surf with friends or family and therefore are missing from the official statistics.

    “That is why we wanted to draw attention to this and highlight the reality for many women experiencing homelessness and International Women’s Day was the ideal time. Hopefully our ‘Invisible Women’ campaign with help inform people and challenge some stereotypes about this important issue.

    “At St Mungo’s our teams are dedicated to advocating for the unique needs of women experiencing homelessness with local and national government, to improving services and working with our partners to make sure women get the support they need.”

    At the charity:

    • Women make up 24% of St Mungo’s clients in housing related support services
    • Almost half of the female clients have experienced domestic violence.
    • 19% had experienced abuse as a child, compared with 5% and 8% of men.

    Sophia, St Mungo’s client, said about her times on the streets: “There was a couple of situations I put myself into, dangerous situations. Sleeping in the park sometimes. But in the park at night-time there was no lights so it’d be absolutely pitch black. So I’d be absolutely scared because you can’t see nothing. And I could hear a few noises but other than that, just horrible.

    “Now I’m feeling great. Because my mood’s uplifted. St Mungo’s supported me. That’s what they do they keep people safe.”

    St Mungo’s has supported more than 1,100 women with accommodation from October to December last year.

    St Mungo’s services work with women at all stages of homelessness, from women in prison at risk of losing their tenancy, to women sleeping rough, living in hostels and moving into independence. Almost one third (31%) of St Mungo’s supported housing residents are women, the charity runs women-only accommodation projects in London and Bristol.

    Follow @StMungo’s on Twitter to learn more about ‘Visible Women’.


    Volunteering to Help Women Recover from Homelessness

    Grace is a Gardening Volunteer at one of our Westminster Women’s services. We asked what International Women’s Day means to her, and how her volunteering has helped support women who’ve experienced homelessness.

    I’m a Gardening Volunteer during the spring and summer at one of the Westminster Women’s Wellbeing accommodation services. Gardening has many broad and diverse benefits which include improved mental and physical health, less social isolation and a sense of fulfilment when a plant is grown.

    The women I support found great satisfaction in the success of our flowers and one of them created a healthy routine which involved getting up in the morning to tend to the plants whilst getting some fresh air. I believe that all of these benefits, whilst making a positive improvement to their space, support women who are recovering from a period of homelessness.

    In a previous volunteering role at StreetLink, I spoke to many women who were experiencing homelessness. They didn’t feel safe bedding down to sleep rough at night due to the increased risk of abuse or violence. They were more likely to try and find somewhere to sofa surf or keep moving throughout the night which meant that they couldn’t access as many services.

    There are many amazing women’s specialist support services and specific times at day centres for women’s only spaces, but I don’t believe that this is enough. Women’s services need to be safe for women to attend and get support, especially if they are fleeing from dangerous situations. This means that women’s services need to be consulted on by women with lived experience, integrated into homelessness services and they need to be taken seriously.

    In my opinion, in order to prevent women’s homelessness, there needs to be more funding available for women’s specialist services. This would include providing safe pathways for survivors of domestic abuse to flee from perpetrators, long term accommodation options for asylum seekers as well as specialist support for LGBTQIA+ women.

    International Women’s Day means celebrating all women, especially those from marginalised communities, their achievements and using the space as a call-to-action to make the world a safer and more prosperous world.

    If you’d like to make a difference and volunteer, you can find more out here.

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