In 1969 a group of volunteers decided to do something to help homeless people
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of St Mungo's.
Our 50 year history is filled with some extraordinary people – people who have been homeless, transformed their lives and inspired many others; people who have dedicated their lives and careers to ending homelessness, and people who have supported and advocated for St Mungo’s throughout. To mark St Mungo’s at 50, we will be profiling 50 Lives throughout the year - a snapshot of those who've played their part in our story.
Today, by working with our clients, partners and supporters, St Mungo’s helps thousands of people across London and the south of England. But we started small.
In 1969 a group of people decided to do something to help the people they saw sleeping rough on the streets of London. They started by going out, talking to people, offering food and what assistance they could.
As they did this more often, people started asking who they were, where they were from. As Charles Fraser, our former Chief Executive told The Guardian in our 40th anniversary year, the story is that one of the group's main volunteers was from Glasgow, whose patron saint is Saint Kentigern. Saint Kentigern is patron saint of the city and of wandering Celts - and is also known as "St Mungo". The group thought "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, St Mungo’s has continued working to end homelessness and has been on the frontline of delivering services to keep people healthy, housed and hopeful.
St Mungo’s pioneered many of the innovative services that are now part of homelessness sector practice and projects, including the first specialist project solely for people sleeping rough with a mental illness; the first specialist project solely for people sleeping rough with a history of alcohol misuse; the only specialist project solely for older people with a long history of rough sleeping and, more recently, the first Recovery College in the homelessness sector.
While our history is important to us, our focus is on the challenges of the present. Each night across England more than 4,000 people sleep rough on the streets: people in need of shelter, support and the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
Homelessness is not inevitable. 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 fulfil their hopes and ambitions.