How Leigh Creates an Inclusive Workplace for their LGBTQIA+ Colleagues

    Leigh is a Service Manager in Hither Green. As part of LGBTQIA+ History Month, we asked them about what being part of the LGBTQIA+ community whilst working with people who experience homelessness means to them.

    I went to school during Section 28 , so my formative years growing up were in an era when there was no positive representation for people like me. I am proud of my queer identity, and it influences every corner of my life. So for me it’s important to show that positive relationship I have with my identity in the workplace for queer staff and residents. I have had really great conversations with our residents about my non-binary gender identity, smashing the stigma about people who’ve experienced homelessness and how people assume they might respond to difference. Similarly, it feels so important to be a positive representation for young queer staff who hopefully benefit from my vision of a bold and inclusive workplace.

    I have always been keen to maintain a client facing role because the most rewarding part of the work for me is the relationship we build with our residents. As someone who benefited from St Mungo’s services almost 10 years ago, I understand the importance of relationship building and the importance that plays in helping our clients thrive.

    My first homelessness job was actually with St Mungo’s in 2016, I was a support navigator for Waltham Forest Single Homelessness Advice and Support Service. I worked assessing and supporting the single homeless population in the borough. I absolutely loved getting to know people and how fast paced the work with people who were sleeping rough was.

    Before coming to Spring Gardens I had taken a sabbatical. Like many others in the sector, I had found working though the pandemic difficult and prioritised my own wellbeing, so I was refreshed in my desire to help others. My previous employment was as London Services Manager for AKT an LGBTQIA+ youth homelessness charity. I managed services ranging from an advice and support service to a network of LGBTQIA+ supported lodging placements.

    My role predominately involves overseeing a team of four managers who manage more than twenty staff across the two sites. The great thing about the project is no one day is ever the same and there is always a challenge to find a solution for. I work really hard to set a culture that is client focused, inclusive and bold.

    We can’t end homelessness until we tackle the structural barriers in this country and see major changes to the way we view social needs. For me, that means decriminalising drugs, prison reform, a new asylum system, defunding the police and investing in specialist social teams and services. Most importantly the government needs to invest and build more affordable homes and supporting people into them and to sustain them.

    National Apprenticeship Week

    Nine years ago Dan found himself experiencing homelessness after his Landlord sold the property he was living in. He struggled to find a new tenancy that would accept him, and his beloved dog, Moby.

    After sleeping rough in Brighton, he and Moby were supported into safe accommodation by St Mungo’s. Today, he works as an Apprentice Assessment and Reconnection Worker in a No Second Night Out (NSNO) service in London.

    We asked him about his experiences of being an apprentice at St Mungo’s:

    My average day as an Apprentice Assessment and Reconnection Worker is hectic. Pretty much anything that can happen, will happen , and the best laid plans sometimes have to be shelved in favour of taking a more dynamic approach.

    My day starts with a team handover meeting to discuss any issues that may have arisen overnight. After this, I liaise with the Duty Team for that day and we discuss anything that needs to be achieved, any clients that need special attention and which admin tasks can be covered. After this, I like to check my emails for any client referral updates and any specific tasks that have been allocated to me. Then I will turn my attention to casework, the clients that I need to see or support and of course, any referrals that need chasing up. It’s easy to get caught up with outstanding tasks in any given day, but I always try to make sure that the people we support at NSNO are at the forefront of how I organise my time and prioritise tasks.

    My previous career was in the hospitality industry, so undertaking an apprenticeship within St Mungo’s has helped me to develop my transferable skills in terms of working within the adult social care sector. It’s also given me the knowledge that I needed so that I have a strong foundation to build on for the future.

    The apprenticeship scheme has introduced subject areas that I didn’t have an understanding of previously, such as how our services are commissioned, and the effect that personalisation within care and support has had on how we deliver those services. Learning about these different areas as part of the Apprenticeship Programme has also shown me how my career could develop in the future. Overall, undertaking an apprenticeship has given me the space to learn and access to new knowledge that will make my change in career a sustainable one.

    My time so far at St Mungo’s has been everything I thought it would be, but one moment stands out particularly. Someone told me when I started at NSNO that I would never forget the first person that I had supported and that was true. This particular person had extremely poor mental health and required some particular support while at NSNO to manage this. They also found the environment challenging to be in. When they told me that their referral had come through and they had viewed where they would be moving, their happiness was obvious and I was so happy for them. It really is something that will never leave me and why I wanted to do this work.

    I would tell anyone that was thinking about doing an apprenticeship that it is more challenging than you may expect, but that it’s definitely worth the effort you put in! I have a degree in History so I thought that the written work would be easier for me but it takes lots of time to produce work of the quality to meet merit or distinction standard. You also have to be prepared to keep the boundary of taking the twenty percent protected time for the apprenticeship, because if you don’t, it’s easy to get behind! However, if you want a strong foundation on which to base your career, then it is well worth the extra effort and after all, it’s only going to be 15 months!

    How St Mungo’s Supports Women

    16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual United Nations campaign that runs from 25 November to 10 December, and this year’s theme is UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.

    In this blog, we look at the services provided by St Mungo’s to support women experiencing homelessness and hear from Michelle Chapman, one of our Domestic Abuse Navigators, about her work.

    The experience of homelessness can vary greatly between men and women. The heightened risk of domestic abuse and sexual violence against women can act as both a potential cause and effect of homelessness, and from the women we support at St Mungo’s, we know that safety is often their most crucial concern.

    As a survivor of abuse herself, Michelle understands the impact that this can have:

    “Being a survivor and working with survivors to me is the ultimate privilege. I see the strength that they have to survive on the streets. They have survived before I knew them and always managed, no matter how hard it is.

    But I also see a fragility in them that’s hidden behind those harsh exteriors and the ravages of a life that some of us can only imagine. The fragility extends to everyone who is in a situation that is beyond their control, whether it is because of their mental health or just the trials of life.”

    At St Mungo’s we provide women-only services and spaces to prevent women being re-traumatised by accessing support with male clients, particularly if they have experienced violence or abuse from a male perpetrator. We believe that women in all areas should have the choice to access mixed or women-only services and spaces based on their safety and preference.

    Health problems are also a major issue, and the average age of death for a woman sleeping rough is just 43. Both women and men alike who are experiencing homelessness are at high risk of physical health problems and are often exposed to further harm from smoking, substance use, poor diet and dangerous living conditions.

    “Some of the girls I support may have addictions and seek to get ‘their fix’ early in the day. Drugs briefly remove them from the harsh realities of life to that comfortable place they call normality.”

    Women who experiencing homelessness also have the same physical health concerns as women in the general population, but these are less commonly considered within homelessness services. For example, it is essential that women experiencing homelessness still have access to early detection and screening services, including cervical smear testing and breast cancer screening, as well as age-related health checks.

    At St Mungo’s, our colleagues never give up on the people we support. Frontline workers like Michelle spend a great deal of time building trust and working with women to create practical and personal strategies, helping them to move away from the streets safely, and working with them alongside service-based staff throughout the process to ensure a real recovery from homelessness.

    “Today’s a good day and one of the women who doesn’t normally engage with me is eager to talk. Normally I am chasing for this but I have found that leaving a message on a note card is the magic key to start a conversation. It’s brief, but nonetheless we chatted. The foundations for future meetings are there and this makes me smile.

    I wonder how the world sees these girls. The judgements are always hiding under the surface and I wonder if they knew their stories if they would they feel any different. The nature of the job means that frustrations constantly play with my emotions, as no matter what we do it never feels like it is enough. But the reality is that we are all doing something and we will continue to support these women, no matter what.”

    If you’re concerned about someone you’ve seen sleeping rough, please contact StreetLink to refer an individual to local homelessness support services.

     

    What UK Disability History Month means to me.

    Anna, our Locality and Community Engagement Coordinator shares what UK Disability History Month means to her.

    To me, UK Disability History Month is special, because it places a spotlight on disabled people that live and thrive in both their professional and personal lives despite how their disability might affect them. It’s a month where the creativity and achievements of people with disabilities are celebrated. It is also a unique time where we can challenge ableism and help achieve even greater equality.

    I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a complex type of disability. The reason why I have it is because my immune system is not working properly. It’s a condition that affects my spine and brain. With MS, your immune system, which would normally help to fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it from the nerve fibres, either slightly or completely, leaving scars known as lesions. This type of damage disrupts the messages that travel along nerve fibres.
    The specific symptoms that appear depend on which part of your central nervous system has been affected, and the job of the damaged nerve.

    Symptoms could vary and they are different for everyone. They could be issues related to your vision, balance, emotions, memory or thinking.

    When I joined St Mungo’s I also joined their Disability Action Network. I am keen to raise awareness on non-visible disabilities. Visibly, if you bump into me at our service or on the street, you will not realize that I am disabled. People associate disability with visible elements, such as a wheelchair, a missing limb, a walking stick, or a white cane, but not only people with visible disabilities are disabled. There is so much more than that to being disabled.

    St Mungo’s has been great in supporting me with my disability. I have felt empowered and included during my time with the organisation. I think in order to support diversity and inclusion at work, we must always look out for our unconscious biases and make sure that the organisation and its staff make it easy for all employees to participate in all activities. We need to always make sure that policies are frequently revised and improved to make sure that every employee and client is appreciated and represented in all of them.

    This might sound a cliché but I love everything about my job. I live close to where I work so I enjoy combining my love for the local community with my dedication to St Mungo’s values and ethos.

    The purpose of my role is to enhance and develop the working practices and culture between all the services in the local area. I work closely with people who have experienced homelessness, our colleagues who work in services and the local community to improve engagement. At the same time, I aim to galvanize support for St Mungo’s goal that everyone should have a home and should be able to fulfil their hopes and ambitions.

    16 Days of Activism

    Each year, St Mungo’s marks the 16 Days of Activism on domestic abuse and gender based violence, starting on 25 November with the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ending on 10 December with Human Rights Day. Jill Thursby, Women and Domestic Abuse Matrix Lead, explains how homelessness and domestic abuse are linked and how St Mungo’s is taking action.

    As Women and Domestic Abuse Matrix lead, my role is to improve things for St Mungo’s women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

    We know from our work that the causes, experiences and solutions for homelessness are different for women. In particular, women carry the added burden of gender-based violence, which can be both a cause and a consequence of homelessness.

    A safe and secure home is the first step to recovery, so we must do all we can to keep women safe from abuse. That’s why we’ve recognised that our biggest challenge is creating an environment of physical and psychological safety for our female clients. Women face disproportionate risk of harm from people they love and trust as well as the dangers of homelessness. We know that expecting women to thrive in traditional, male-dominated homelessness services is not good enough.

    Hidden Homelessness

    Research commissioned from the University of York highlights the hidden harm of women sleeping rough. Women on the streets are exposed to frightening risks of sexual harassment, abuse and violence, but hiding from harm can also mean that women are hidden from help.

    The 16 Days give us the chance to us to bring the issue of women’s hidden homelessness to light. Across the organisation, we’ll be having honest conversations about abuse and, relationships and connecting people with specialist support.

    St Mungo’s was proud to be a part of the recent London Women’s Rough Sleeping Census, aiming to better capture data about the extent of women’s rough sleeping. Findings from the census will not only evidence need, but also inform future provision.

    The United Nations’ themes for this year’s campaign is UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls. We must make sure that the global movement against harassment and abuse also reaches women who are homeless and hidden. We need action in government and in homelessness services to ensure that the needs of women experiencing homelessness are met.

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can contact a specialist organisation for support:
    National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
    National LGBT+ Helpline: 0800 999 5428
    Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327

    Providing support to people experiencing homelessness in our rapid response service

    In this blog, Sophie, No Second Night Out (NSNO) Manager shares how our rapid response service, NSNO is helping people to have their last night on the streets.

    Our NSNO service has changed a lot in the last few years through the covid-19 pandemic. We moved from ‘shared space’ assessment hubs which allowed 25 people a safe place to sleep to a different model. Now, we operate with Assessment Hubs; three of these working with people from all over London who have been sleeping rough.

    People who have been sleeping rough are brought into one of the three hubs by outreach teams. There they are greeted by Assessment and Reconnection Workers who conduct a thorough assessment of their circumstances and what led to their rough sleeping. They then use this to formulate a plan to help them in their recovery from homelessness and move them into safe and secure appropriate accommodation.

    In addition to the hubs, we have four ‘Staging Posts’ and are still operating a large hotel in Waterloo. In total we have 233 beds; 25 of these are for people with complex immigration cases and who have no recourse to public funds.

    People are referred from the hubs into these ‘staging posts’ so that they can have a private room whilst we continue to support them in their recovery. We aim to move people in these hubs into accommodation within six weeks. As well as providing warmth, safety and respite from the dangers of rough sleeping, it allows us to work quickly to resolve their homelessness and to understand the support they need to feel empowered and involved in their established move on plans. It’s amazing to be able to work with people and see the difference having privacy and space after days, weeks, months or sometimes even years on the streets can have – to see them settle in and see the positive effects this has.

    From here, or directly from the hubs, we support people most often into:

    • Emergency accommodation via the Local Authority. This is for individuals who are particularly vulnerable and eligible for immediate support and assistance owing to their support needs
    • Supported accommodation and then longer term supported housing
    • Private Rented Sector accommodation
    • Clearing House properties

    As the people we’re supporting come to us from sleeping rough on the streets, it is crucial to build a relationship of trust. We work hard to ensure the balance of supporting them by providing a rapid service whilst ensuring that we get to know them as individuals. Often people who’ve experienced homelessness come in feeling distrustful, and understandably so when they may have felt rejected or unsupported by statutory services or friends and family. A huge part of our role is proactively signposting, advocating and connecting them to the support they need whether this be through their council, mental health services or social care.

    This winter, we are continuing this work and as always trying to support people into accommodation as quickly as we can. We are also preparing for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol in the coming months, an emergency response to prevent deaths of people sleeping rough during winter and in prolonged extreme cold. We are also preparing for more intermittent spells of cold weather due to the effects of climate change and are organising this crucial lifesaving provision in NSNO by providing a new building for this purpose.

    St Mungo’s frontline workers can help more people sleeping rough and find them safe beds in from the cold. Your help could make sure more people have their last night on the streets – and their first night of a new life. Find out more here.

    UK Disability History Month – Disability, Health and Wellbeing at St Mungo’s.

     

    What is Disability History Month?

    Disability History Month was first celebrated in 2010 and recognises the history of the struggle for equality and human rights for disabled people. Did you know that until 1995 it was completely legal to discriminate against disabled people? But even after the Disability Discriminatory Act (DDA) was passed in 1995, not much changed. The Act aimed to outlaw discrimination against disabled people but it was limited in scope, widely ignored and poorly enforced.

    It was only twelve years ago that the DDA was replaced with the Equality Act (2010), strengthening the protection of disabled people’s rights (in some situations). This underpinned the first official definition of disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities (Equality Act 2010).

    In 2010, multiple disabled led organisations understandably felt the need to have a specific time in the year when the history of their struggle for equality and human rights could be highlighted. As a result of campaigning, 79 Members of Parliament signed an ‘Early Day Motion’ encouraging people to campaign to improve the position of disabled people in society and work to reduce inequality, and urging the Government to ensure that its policies and latest spending cuts would be properly assessed in terms of their impact on people with disabilities so that they would not exacerbate existing inequalities. This saw the beginning of the official Disability History Month which now runs between November and December each year.

    Disability and Homelessness

    Many people who experience homelessness also have disabilities. According to Shelter, 54% of people with a significant disability (1.8m adults) do not have a safe or secure home, compared with 30% of people without a disability. This is not surprising when taking into account that people who live in households where there is one or more disabled people, are more likely to experience poverty. Discrimination in society, at work, and a lack of provision for disabled individuals likely contribute to these statistics.

    Sometimes, depending on their disability, people can also struggle to access homelessness services.

    Disability, Health and Wellbeing at St Mungo’s

    This year’s UK Disability History Month’s theme is Disability, Health and Wellbeing, following the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on those with disabilities.

    At St Mungo’s, just under a quarter of the people we support have a disability. We offer a range of support including specialist care, support with accessing mental and physical health care on the NHS, our own counselling service, and various support services for mental health and addiction needs. Earlier this year, we launched a review into care services for those who have experienced homelessness, highlighting the need for more provision. During the pandemic, we also spearheaded campaigns for free tests for those in homelessness accommodation to continue, and also to encourage those who can to get vaccinated.

    In terms of our staff, about 10% of our employees have disclosed to us that they have a disability. We have a Disability Action Network which advocates for our disabled colleagues, as well as various forms of mental health support, free access to online, out of hours GP and flexible and work from home arrangements. We are a Disability Confident employer.

    Find out more about working for St Mungo’s.

    My experience as an Outreach Volunteer

    We first met Chris when he was sleeping rough and needed help from us. After volunteering with us as an Outreach Volunteer in our Bournemouth & Poole Service, he now works full time for St Mungo’s.

    Chris has gone from strength to strength, and we wanted to share his story below.

    “As I was a client of St. Mungo’s, I used the pathways they provide to become a volunteer in the Outreach team in the Bournemouth & Poole branch. As soon as I got back on my feet, I wanted to give something back to St. Mungo’s as a thank you for all the support they have given me.

    As Outreach Volunteers, we start in the early mornings. Firstly, we will pick up and answer phone messages and any referrals from StreetLink, then we will hit the streets to search for people who are sleeping rough.

    Some days can be quiet and you won’t see any people, other days you might be in contact with 10 rough sleepers. No day is the same on the Outreach team. After we’ve been on the streets, we go back to the office and type up our notes from the shift onto our database system, Opal.

    I believe that as a volunteer with lived experience of rough sleeping, my experience has helped the Outreach team by giving them knowledge into how rough sleepers interact with the general public and authorities. I feel that my role also has a positive impact on the staff’s sense of self worth. It’s an intense and emotional job and it can feel like there are a lot of failures. However, there are also many successes and when that does happen, I try and shout about them, so that they know that they’re doing a stellar job.

    The initial challenge as an Outreach Volunteer is the engagement with the people we meet on the street because some of them might have trust issues with authorities. Another challenge is encouraging the clients into getting the help that they need. I empathise with this since I had my own trust issues when I was on the streets.

    One time I was on a winter shift with the Outreach team, it was freezing cold, and we were trying to contact a man who had buried himself deeply into a shelter he had built himself. He wasn’t engaging with us. We carried on for a while, buying him coffees and trying to chat to him, but to no avail. He had said to us ‘go away, nobody cares.’ This is when I stepped in and told him that I understood his feelings and I then said ‘…but it’s 4 o’clock in the morning, it’s freezing cold and I’m a volunteer, of course I care otherwise I wouldn’t be here! All we want is to just do a welfare check. So, please just show us your face, tell us who you are, and tell us that you’re ok.’ After I said this, he finally trusted us and allowed us to do a welfare check which almost brought a tear to my eye! This experience will stick with me forever.

    The rewards of the Outreach Volunteer role are seeing that I have helped someone in some way take their first steps out of homelessness. When I first find somebody, they think there’s no hope, but we take them on to other St. Mungo’s services and we give them that little bit of hope to start rebuilding their lives. That’s the only reward I need.

    This volunteer role has massively improved my sense of self-worth and has given me purpose…so much so that I applied for a full time Outreach role, and I got it!

    I have felt supported by the whole of St Mungo’s 100%. I can be shy in some ways, but they have made me feel so welcomed and comfortable in the office.

    The volunteer services team have supported me through everything and have always been there to answer any questions, even if it’s as simple as asking which button I press! I’m also impressed by all of the courses and training that St. Mungo’s provide for their volunteers.

    If you want to volunteer you need to be open minded, and be prepared for failure (you can’t help the world!). Don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t take things personally – a lot of people sleeping rough have a bad history with authorities and may have trust issues.

    My advice for those currently supported by St Mungo’s looking to volunteer is firstly, make sure you can take on this responsibility and make sure you’re putting yourself first. If you’re only just at the beginning of your pathway, I don’t think volunteering is for you…yet! Keep working on yourself and your surroundings first and when you’re firmly on your feet, sign up to volunteer.

    My dream was to become a full-time Outreach Worker for St. Mungo’s…and I got it! So, my hopes for the future, is to be the best ground level outreach worker I can be. If there are 10 levels of being an Outreach Worker, I want to be 11.”

    National Coming Out Day

    Chris, St Mungo’s LGBTQIA+ Diversity Network Co-ordinator shares his thoughts on why National Coming Out Day still matters in 2022.

    “Happily bouncing on a trampoline with my best friend, 10 year old me decided to share something which had been playing through my mind for a while. A scary and confusing puzzle which I needed help figuring out. I knew I was stepping into dark and taboo waters by discussing it, but I trusted my friend to help me with this perplexing puzzle. “Elli, I like looking at men and I don’t know what that means” I mutter, immediately regretting revealing the puzzle to her. She asked what I meant but I quickly dismissed it, saying I was only joking and to forget about it. 10 year old me was not ready yet, so I shelved the puzzle and locked it away.

    Fast forward four years, after much time surfing the internet, which gave me loads of supportive material and the opportunity to meet people who also had the same puzzle, I finally decided to solve it. I stormed into school, approached my friend shaking and excited blurting out: “I’m pretty sure I’m gay.” I was smiling, I felt relief, and I felt nervous. They immediately screamed and hugged me, also sharing they were bi and welcoming me to the club. “This is fantastic,” I thought. “I feel amazing! I want to tell someone else”. By the end of the day I had told nearly everyone I was close to, and the puzzle had finally been solved. It’s been over a decade now where I’ve lived my truest self.

    I came out early in my teen years, and at the time it was quite rare for someone to come out so young (I was ironically coined the “Gay Lord” by other closeted gays in my school year because of it). Thanks to the support I found online, it allowed me to find the courage to reveal my sexuality in a heteronormative society. That’s why National Coming Out Day is so important: Support.

    National Coming Out Day was established in 1988 by American activists Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. They didn’t want to respond to anti-LGBTQIA+ opinions and views with defensiveness and negativity, so instead they chose to promote positivity and support by creating the day which helped thousands be their authentic selves. The purpose of the day is not to pressure people into coming out, or to shame those who haven’t. The day is there to promote support, awareness, celebrations and the beauty of being your true self.

    Being in the closet is a scary and lonely experience, where the thought of coming out brings anxiety that you’ll be rejected by everyone. The day is important for allowing those individuals who feel locked away to access support and find the courage to be their true self. While coming out can be daunting and scary, it can also be the first time that LGBTQ+ individuals are able to be truly open with the people closest to them.

    National Coming Out Day is also important not just for those in the LGBTQIA+ community, but also for those who are cisgender and/or heterosexual. It promotes and raises awareness to those not in the community and gives them the opportunity to support those who are coming out.

    Is coming out still necessary? Some might say the world is a much more accepting place nowadays. Although it’s somewhat true that society is becoming more accepting, it is far from perfect. ‘Coming Out’ also isn’t just for homosexual cis men like me who have fortunately had a somewhat easy experience. It includes everyone else under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, large sections of which are still not as widely accepted. Each experience is unique and subjective and all are celebrated under National Coming Out Day.

    At St Mungo’s we are fortunate to have the LGBTQIA+ Diversity Network and many other services to offer support for those who need it. It allows us to create a community of acceptance and belonging within the workplace, which is exactly what National Coming Out Day encourages and promotes. This is why the LGBTQIA+ Diversity Network are hosting a “Human Library” of coming out stories on 11 October 2022, to mark and celebrate the day. By sharing our stories it can help strengthen our belonging in the workplace whilst also giving the opportunity to inspire those who potentially need it.”

    World Homeless Day – Making it someone’s last night on the streets

    Monday 10 October is World Homeless Day – a day which highlights the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping, and to encourage governments and organisations worldwide to take action. At St Mungo’s, our ambition is to make it the last night on the streets for as many people experiencing homelessness as we can.

    Our Last Night on the Streets winter campaign shows the realities and dangers of sleeping rough during the winter months. At St Mungo’s, we work every day and every night, to help people away from the streets and into a safe and warm place they can call home. We’ve used actors in our public campaign but the stories it’s telling are very much real. We hear first-hand how the people we support experience violence and fear when sleeping rough.

     

    It was very important to us that the experiences of the people we support were reflected in our campaign. We spoke to people we have supported into accommodation and recovery to talk about how it felt to know that it was their own last night on the streets.

    Sam’s story:

    Sam, who moved from Manchester to London in 2007 after being kicked out of his home, found himself sleeping rough. Since working with St Mungo’s, he now lives in his own flat and works as an apprentice:

    “That first night on the streets was awful, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. All I had was a blanket and it was really cold. I was awake most of the night – afraid of being stabbed or something.

    After eight months of sleeping rough, an outreach worker told me she’d got me a bed in a hostel and a grant for some new clothes. That first night inside was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had – going from concrete to a mattress, I slept like a baby.

    From there I moved into a flat where I was supported by St Mungo’s. They treated me as a human. They’d encourage me to come out of my flat to go to events. I could talk to them about anything, and have a laugh and a joke. They helped me get my spark back.

    In May I started my new job. I’m an apprentice at the Department for Work and Pensions, assisting a senior member of staff. The Job Centre put me forward for it but I never thought I would get it. I beat 192 people to the job – I couldn’t believe it when they told me. Now that I have a proper salary I might get a new car, and move into a bigger flat in a few months too. It all feels a bit surreal.”

    At St Mungo’s, we work hard at every stage of the journey to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. And while our public campaign focuses mainly on our frontline rough sleeping services, everyone at St Mungo’s – whatever their job – are dedicated to ending homelessness, for good.

    So, over the coming months, we’ll be sharing stories from across St Mungo’s and how we all work to make it someone’s last night on the streets.

    Help make tonight someone’s last night on streets, donate today.

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