Street Impact Brighton: successes and outcomes

    Street Impact Brighton Limited (SIB) was established to work with some of Brighton’s most complex rough sleepers; people with histories which involve prolonged and repeat episodes of rough sleeping as well as complex issues around alcohol, drug use and mental health.

    The project was due to start in 2017, however attempts to deliver a four-year multiagency, Sussex-wide SIB were unsuccessful. The following year Brighton and Hove City Council commissioned St Mungo’s to deliver Brighton SIB – a pioneering project to work with 100 people who were identified as being hard to reach, and the most difficult for our teams to encourage to engage with our support.

    The project officially started in March 2018 and is a Social Impact Bond which has social investors putting up the funds to meet the scheme’s running costs and is reimbursed on a 100% payment by results basis by Brighton & Hove City Council. This is backed by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

    Fast forward three years and the project closes at the end of March 2021 with some wonderful outcomes. Paulina Drydra, former SIB Outreach Manager shares their journey.

    How does SIB work?

     Over the past three years we have been working with a cohort of 100 named individuals who have experienced long periods of time rough sleeping or who repeatedly return to the streets.  We have a dedicated team of four staff: one manager and three SIB workers. The SIB workers are assigned up to 30 clients each at any one time.

    We were not looking to replace or replicate services that people already had strong links to, but to support those services and fill any gaps with targeted personal support and funds to help people really sustain their recovery.

    The SIB models works because it relies on a great degree of trust between a person sleeping rough and a support worker who has the time and capacity to tackle the complex causes of someone’s homelessness and support them to recover in their own way.

    Optimism when all hope is lost

    Being a SIB worker is about carrying optimism when someone sleeping rough may have lost all hope, while at the same time being absolutely respectful of the individual’s choices and decisions – because it is their life after all. This takes time and focus, and the SIB model gave us that.

    The project essentially succeeds or fails according to how well the team are able to deliver a ‘throughcare’ service – the secret ingredient is providing a new way of working with clients and not replicating something that hasn’t worked before.

    What makes SIB different?

    The two differences that have enabled us to sustain long term outcomes for some of Brighton’s most complex rough sleepers have been consistency and freedom to innovate.

    We offer consistency because we are with people for the whole process allowing the worker/client relationships to develop slowly.

    We have greater freedom to individually tailor our approach to achieve the end goal for our clients, backed up by funds. This kind of approach is harder to take in more traditionally commissioned services, where costs and time spent with each client is directly influenced by commissioning frameworks and contractual expectations.

    Our success

    As we come to the end of the programme, I am proud to say we have achieved some great results. We have engaged with 100 people which is 100% of the original target. We have supported 78% to either enter or sustain their accommodation, providing the vital support they need to get their life back on track, 28% people have successfully signed a long term tenancy agreement and 15% have sustained their tenancy for over one year. There are currently no rough sleepers in Brighton that sit within the SIB Cohort. It’s wonderful to see people feeling in control of their lives again.

    Find out more about our Social Impact Bonds model and successes and outcomes to date here.

    Paulina no longer works for St Mungo’s but she has given her permission to use this article.

    Responding to women’s homelessness during COVID-19

    Our Women’s Strategy Manager, Cat Glew shares how St Mungo’s has responded to women’s homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    When the COVID-19 crisis struck, St Mungo’s reacted quickly to support thousands of vulnerable women and men off the streets and into hotel and emergency accommodation where they could safely self-isolate.

    But as domestic abuse charities warned at the beginning of lockdown, women and survivors in our services have been living with two pandemics during this time – the new threat of coronavirus, and the old and endemic risk of violence against women.

    The link between homelessness, domestic abuse and other violence against women is well documented. New evidence published by Women’s Aid last week found that 70% of respondents to their Survivor Voice survey who were still living with their perpetrator said that fears around housing and homelessness were preventing them from leaving. 

    Unfortunately, these fears are well-founded – for many survivors, homelessness is the price they pay for leaving their abuser. Data from the No Women Turned Away programme – which supports women facing additional barriers to accessing refuges spaces – shows that of the 243 women supported, 17 slept rough and 93 sofa-surfed while waiting for refuge.

    As we have seen over the past months, the impact of any pandemic tends to be felt most strongly among the most marginalised groups. Agencies running services by and for Black and minoritised women have spoken out about disproportionate risks and danger of abuse and homelessness during COVID-19, calling for urgent action from government. 

    Domestic abuse is a driver of homelessness and the risk to survivors continues on the streets and in homelessness services. We also know that the risk of serious harm from domestic abuse has risen during COVID-19. With staff and clients in our services facing more challenges than ever, we needed to respond quickly.

    St Mungo’s has worked with our partners Standing Together and Single Homeless Project to produce quick guidance on domestic abuse and sexual violence in homelessness settings during COVID-19, supported by Homeless Link who also hosted our webinar on women’s safety. These resources are designed to help workers in homelessness services ask the right questions to help women and survivors keep safe. 

    As people self-isolating in emergency hotels face an uncertain future. We are also calling on government to secure safe accommodation and support for women and survivors with our No Going Back campaign. Our letter to Dame Louise Casey sets out how the government Rough Sleeping Taskforce can work with local authorities to provide homeless women and survivors with a safe home free from abuse.

    We watch with interest as the Domestic Abuse Bill progresses through parliament. We are working with partners to make the case that domestic abuse accommodation and community services should receive sustainable funding and that all survivors of domestic abuse should receive automatic priority for housing from local authorities. We support calls to lift ‘no recourse to public funds’ restrictions for survivors of violence against women to give survivors access to safe accommodation and support.

    Looking forward to the second year of our Women’s Strategy, our plans will shift as we continue to respond to the pandemic, but our focus on women’s safety is needed now more than ever. We commit to understand and address the additional barriers to safety and recovery faced by homeless Black and minoritised women. 

    As we celebrate our female clients and volunteers with lived experience, we will also continue to listen and be held accountable by them as we improve our response to violence and abuse.

    Support our No Going Back campaign – write to your MP.

    Calling on the Government for Housing First, not housing only

    Photo of St Mungo's staff during appointment with client

    The centrepiece of the new Conservative Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping is an expansion of the Housing First scheme. Dave Wilson, Impact & Evaluation Officer, shares some new research about St Mungo’s own Housing First services and discusses how they offer a potential solution to our rough sleeping crisis.

    It was easy to miss it, but the major parties made big commitments on homelessness in this election. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all gave manifesto pledges to eliminate rough sleeping – the most extreme and dangerous form of homelessness – from our streets altogether.

    As the dust settles on the result, one of the things we at St Mungo’s have been thinking about is how the new Conservative government will deliver on their pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024.

    The Conservative manifesto makes it clear that the government sees an expansion of Housing First – an internationally proven approach to tackling rough sleeping – as a big part of the answer.

    And so, now seems like a good time to share the work we have been doing recently about some of our own Housing First services, in Brighton and Hove, and Westminster.

    An in-depth look at how Housing First operates in the UK

    Housing First services look quite different to conventional homelessness services. In Housing First, individuals who are sleeping rough are given direct access to independent accommodation without going through a homeless hostel or shelter. From there they are offered intensive, holistic support from support workers.

    Study after study has shown Housing First to be a very effective solution to homelessness. But much of this research comes from the US and the housing system and homelessness services work very differently there. We wanted to explore in more detail what Housing First looks like in practice in a UK setting.

    Our new research, published this week in partnership with the University of Salford, looks at two St Mungo’s Housing First services in Brighton and Hove, and Westminster. Both areas face very similar challenges: an overheated housing market, a severe shortage of social housing and some of the highest levels of rough sleeping in the country.

    An effective solution, but practical constraints

    For us, there are three main lessons from the research:

    1. Housing First can be an effective solution to rough sleeping in the UK.
      Both projects work with clients who have chaotic housing histories. In many cases, these individuals had been through and struggled with the system of conventional homelessness services on multiple occasions. But the research found that the Housing First teams were very effective at supporting these clients to sustain independent tenancies. Crucially, even when clients struggled to maintain the tenancy or were evicted, they continued to receive support from their Housing First support worker. This was often an important platform to help them get things back on track.
    2. Some of the Housing First principles are compromised by lack of housing options.
      We learned that there are serious challenges to operating a Housing First service in the form originally intended in these areas. One of the principles underlying Housing First is that clients should have choice and control over where they live and security of tenure. Both of those are hard to achieve in cities where private housing is shockingly expensive and social housing waiting lists stretch thousands long.
    3. Partnership working is key to success in Housing First.
      Clients in Housing First services often have a range of complex, interrelated needs. Support is most effective when it is provided by a skilled, multidisciplinary team covering specialisms like drug and alcohol treatment, mental health and employment skills. The model is at its best when it is Housing First, not housing only. It is also vital for services to cultivate good relationships with private sector and social landlords. The research highlighted this in Westminster in particular, where all Housing First clients were able to access secure social accommodation via a single housing association, Sanctuary.

    Housing First should be part of a wider strategy to tackle rough sleeping

    Last year, the government announced £28 million of new funding for three Housing First pilots, in the West Midlands, Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

    Our research strengthens the case that Housing First is an effective solution to rough sleeping, and we welcome these schemes.

    But we also know that Housing First works best if the wider environment is right. £1 billion has been cut from vital homelessness services in the past decade. There is a lot of ground to make up to ensure everyone sleeping rough has the right, tailored package of support for them.

    That is why we are calling on the government in our Home for Good campaign to take the bold action needed to end rough sleeping for good.

    • Firstly, it must ensure an adequate supply of social housing.
    • Secondly, it must make the private rented sector more secure and more affordable.
    • And thirdly, it needs to provide long-term guaranteed funding for homelessness services. This includes Housing First, but it should not be limited to it.

    More Housing First is a good idea, but without these wider changes, the Government will not be able to follow through on its pledge and end rough sleeping for good.

    Read the full report and our summary.

    What must be done to prevent homeless deaths

    Photo of origami flowers made to commemorate those who died while sleeping rough

    Following the news of an increase in deaths among people who are sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation, Rory Weal, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer for St Mungo’s, discusses what must be done to combat this rising trend.

    Today we heard the news that 726 people died while sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation last year. This is a 22% increase compared to 2017, the highest year to year increase since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) started publishing these figures six years ago.

    These figures should shock and shame all of us. The figure of 726 means that someone dies while homeless every 12 hours – that’s the equivalent of two people a day.

    Moreover, these deaths are overwhelmingly premature and entirely preventable – the mean age of death was 45 for men, and 43 for women. To have so many people die in this way, in such discomfort and distress, failed by so many is nothing short of a national tragedy.

    But this is not the sort of tragedy where we simply pause, pay our respects, then move on, bemoaning the wretched luck of a particularly unfortunate group of people. It is the product of collective choices and decisions, and should be regarded as a national emergency, one which needs urgent action.

    The context to these figures is that rough sleeping has risen by 165% since 2010, the result of years of funding cuts which have devastated crucial services and the unavailability of genuinely affordable housing. More people are sleeping rough, which exposes them to a greater range of harms – a premature death being the greatest.

    To stop people dying on the streets we have to stop them living on the streets. We need to build homes, to make the welfare system truly work for the most vulnerable and to fund homelessness services to help people find a way off the streets, and out of danger, for good.

    And we must also tackle the direct causes of death – the figures show the majority of deaths are so-called ‘deaths of despair’, the result of drugs, alcohol or suicide. Drug related deaths in particular have soared in recent years, and account almost entirely for the increase we’ve seen last year.

    Just as housing and homelessness services have become harder to access, so too have drug and alcohol services, leaving many people languishing with serious drug and alcohol problems and going without the support they desperately need. We still have a situation where most of these deaths will never result in a Safeguarding Adults Review, the legal review process for deaths which have occurred due to  abuse or neglect. As a result vital lessons are going unlearned. We now need a new national system to review each and every death.

    As we consider what we need to do to tackle this emergency, we must remember each and every life that has been prematurely lost in recent years.

    At St Mungo’s, to commemorate those people who died while homeless, our clients, alongside staff and supporters, have together hand made hundreds of origami flowers, in tribute to lives needlessly lost.

    The most fitting tribute of all, however, would be meaningful government action to prevent future tragedies.

    No one should die on the streets or while homeless. This can, and must, change. You can help by taking action today.

    Help create change by backing our campaign to make the Prime Minister aware of this national emergency.

    A Home for Good: what it will take to end rough sleeping

    This week we launched a new report at a reception in Parliament as part of our Home for Good campaign. St Mungo’s Chief Executive Howard Sinclair outlined to MPs, peers, partners and clients attending what we believe it will take to end rough sleeping. This is his speech.

    Thank you to everyone for coming, especially to our speakers and our host Bob Blackman MP. And a special thanks to Kevin who has already done so much to support our Home for Good campaign. Your story and enthusiasm has truly inspired us to be ambitious about the changes we want to see.

    And our Home for Good campaign is ambitious. It’s a campaign for more social housing, a more secure and affordable private rented sector and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services.

    These are the changes needed to put an end to rough sleeping. An end to people sleeping outside, exposed not just to the elements, but to violence and abuse, falling quickly into a state of despair and desperation that comes from not having a safe place to call home.

    St Mungo’s services work to end rough sleeping for these very individuals every day by:

    • Getting a roof over people’s heads
    • Supporting them to address the issues that led to homelessness
    • Helping them to make a journey of recovery from the damage rough sleeping causes
    • And ultimately helping them to rebuild their lives.

    Kevin’s story, and the stories of many others, encourage us to be ambitious for individuals knowing that with the right help, rough sleeping is not inevitable.

    The tragic return of mass rough sleeping in recent years is something no one should take lightly. Today more people than ever are not only stuck on the streets, but are dying on the streets. Since our reception last year, at least 449 people are known to have died while sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation.

    The Government has been clear about its ambition of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027, and it is encouraging to see the efforts made since our last Parliamentary reception to start work on achieving that ambition. For the opposition parties, as well, rough sleeping and homelessness is high on their agenda.

    The publication of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy, including the funding for the Rough Sleeping Initiative, are very welcome steps. We know the Rough Sleeping Initiative money is making a difference in this respect. But as Kevin’s story shows, the right accommodation and support also need to be in place to help people stay off the streets.

    The report we’re launching today highlights the long term value of floating support, which is not always visible like a hostel in the local community, but does a vital job of helping people hang onto their homes.

    Our report also presents new evidence that funding for services which prevent and reduce homelessness is slipping away at a much faster rate than the Government is topping it up. The report includes new research showing an 18% reduction in funding for floating support services over the past five years in the areas with the highest numbers of people sleeping rough, in London the funding has reduced by 41%.

    And it’s an ever greater challenge in many towns and cities to help people find the secure, safe and affordable housing they need in order to rebuild their lives away from the street for good.

    Ten years of steady dis-investment in services, in housing and in support has lead us to this position, we know how to sort it but we cannot do it overnight.

    The short term Rough Sleeping Initiative is welcome – but it is ‘short term’. Next year’s Spending Review presents a real opportunity to inject some certainty into the Government’s plan to end rough sleeping. It is an opportunity to tackle the structural factors driving more people onto the street.

    I am clear that the number of people sleeping rough tonight across the country is a national disaster. 4,751 people on any one night, 4,751 people without any roof over their head. And in a disaster situation we would expect an emergency relief response, as well as a coming together of public authorities and civil society to provide the long-term solution. We would also expect, that as a society, we would strive to ensure it never happened again.

    The Government has rightly focused on the emergency response, but we also need the focus on long-term housing and support, and on preventing people sleeping rough in the first place.

    That’s why our Home for Good campaign makes three asks; more social housing, including specialist housing specifically for people moving on from rough sleeping; a more secure and affordable private rented sector; and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services.

    That’s what it will take to end rough sleeping and that’s what we look forward to seeing as the next steps to achieve the Government’s ambition to end rough sleeping for good.

    Support our Home for Good campaign to end rough sleeping for good.



    Steve Douglas, CBE

    • Role: Chief Executive
    • Email:

    Whilst numbers of people rough sleeping rise, essential services are being cut

    This week at the Houses of Parliament St Mungo’s released a research report highlighting the role of essential support services in ending rough sleeping. Robyn Casey, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, reflects on the findings and how the Government can take action to ensure everyone can have a Home for Good.

    Last month, homelessness outreach teams and volunteers went out across England to count the number of people who were sleeping rough for official Government figures. Over recent years, these counts have revealed shocking trends as between 2010 and 2017 the number of people sleeping rough had more than doubled.

    At St Mungo’s we’re working towards a time when there is no one sleeping rough, but know that there is much more work to be done to end rough sleeping for good.

    Everyone deserves a home for good

    The Government has promised to end rough sleeping by 2027, and our Home for Good campaign outlines the steps they need to take to achieve this.

    For starters, it is crucial that more housing is available to people with a history of sleeping rough, and that these homes are affordable, long term options.

    That’s why we’re calling on the Government to embark on an ambitious programme to build more social housing, with some of these new homes reserved for people who have slept rough. Reform of the private rented sector – including making tenancies more stable and limiting rent increases – will also mean that fewer people will face eviction from their home.

    However, we know that it takes more than a roof over someone’s head to end homelessness. Some people need additional support to keep their home for good. At St Mungo’s, we work with people who have a range of support needs. For example, in 2017-18, 50% of people seen sleeping rough in London had a mental health problem, 43% had a problem with alcohol use and 40% had a problem with drug use.

    Many others who have a history of sleeping rough struggle to manage a tenancy without support to pay their bills, speak to their landlord, or manage a welfare claim. Floating support services can help them to do this.

    Floating support provides the help that people need

    Floating support workers help stop people returning to the streets by providing support to people in their own home. This support is tailored to the person but can involve helping people to keep on top of their bills and control their finances; manage mental health or substance use problems; navigate the benefits system; or get into training or employment.

    Evidence shows these types of services both reduce the amount of rent arrears that people with a history of homelessness can build up and the number of people who are taken to court over rent arrears. They can also help people with a long history of rough sleeping to get, and keep, their homes.

    But unfortunately, funding for these services has declined dramatically over the past five years. At the same time, rough sleeping has hugely increased.

    Funding cuts have put these services at risk of closure

    We asked local authorities for details about their floating support contracts between 2013 and 2018. Shockingly, we found that funding for these services had decreased by an average of 18% across England. The funding cuts were even starker at a regional level, with a 41% reducation across London and 26% across the South East. Tellingly, these are the areas with the highest proportion of people sleeping rough in England.

    We also looked at funding for specialist services. Whilst funding for generic services, which anyone can access, increased by 5% over the five year period, specialist services for people with mental health needs declined by 44% and for ex-offenders declined by an astonishing 88%.

    These specialist services are important because floating support workers are experts in helping people to access the right healthcare for them and in advising them of their rights. Without this expertise, some people will fall through the cracks.

    Homelessness services, including floating support, need long term guaranteed funding to ensure they are available to everyone who needs them. But for too long these services have faced funding cuts and insecurity.

    Getting everyone the support they need

    Our Home for Good campaign is calling on the government to put an end to rough sleeping by ensuring that everyone gets the long term housing and support they need to rebuild their lives.

    The Government can make this happen by urgently reviewing the decline in funding for housing related support services, including floating support, and committing to guaranteeing funding for local authorities to plan and commission homelessness services. They should also ensure that local homelessness and rough sleeping strategies include a focus on ongoing support, including floating support services.

    Help us end rough sleeping for good by signing Kevin’s open letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

    Why the budget 2018 is a missed opportunity for ending rough sleeping

    Following the announcement of the autumn 2018 budget, Rory Weal, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, analyses what the Government’s plans mean for those sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness.

    Amongst talk of an ‘end of austerity’ budget, the Chancellor yesterday delivered one that was really a missed opportunity from the perspective of homelessness.

    It had been a positive summer, with the Government listening to the homelessness sector and deciding to keep funding for supported housing in the welfare system, as well as publishing a rough sleeping strategy which contained a variety of interventions to stop the scandalous rise in the number of people sleeping rough across the country.

    However, the Budget failed to build on these developments, and did not contain measures which will deliver on the Government’s commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022, and end it all together by 2027.

    There were bits of positive news to be found which – if delivered with homelessness in mind – could contribute to helping people off the streets.

    A new mental health crisis service

    On mental health, there was the news that a new mental health crisis service will be developed, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. Given the scale of the mental health crisis on the streets and the difficulty many have accessing support, this is particularly welcome.

    The service will include comprehensive mental health support in every major A&E, more mental health specialist ambulances, and more crisis cafes. We want to see this service work with people sleeping rough who have mental health problems, providing support on the street if necessary.

    More money for the NHS

    However, we know that prevention is always better than cure. We want to see fewer people getting to crisis point and helped much earlier before conditions worsen.

    People sleeping rough have much higher rates not only of mental illness, but of physical health problems too, and shockingly high levels of mortality. So the cash injection for the NHS – £20bn over the next five years – is desperately needed and clearly welcome. But we know that without a clear plan, these kinds of funding injections often don’t make their way through to helping the most vulnerable. That is why we want the upcoming NHS Long Term Plan to earmark some of these funds for specialist services for people sleeping rough, to ensure their needs are not forgotten.

    Funding to address problems in Universal Credit roll-out

    Universal Credit roll-out has had a particularly damaging impact on people sleeping rough, which is why the £1bn announced in the budget to address problems with roll-out is welcome. These problems include large deductions being taken from Universal Credit awards to repay Advance Payments and other debts such as rent arrears. We are also seeing increases in arrears for service charge in supported housing, as Universal Credit no longer allows claimants living in supported housing to request direct payments to their landlord for the likes of gas and electricity.

    The complexity of the new system means that many struggle to navigate it and make a claim without support. The cumulative effect of this is to make it even harder for people to move on from homelessness.

    We want this new funding used to address these serious problems. However, in order to stop vulnerable claimants being pushed further into destitution, we still want to see a pause in the roll-out to give time for the process to be fixed.

    But not enough to end rough sleeping…

    Despite these positive notes, the overall feeling is that this was a missed opportunity. With no funding measures on rough sleeping specifically, and no plans to tackle the key drivers of homelessness, there is still much more to do to get close to the Government ambition to ending rough sleeping by 2027.

    We need to see further commitments to increase social housing, strengthen private renting and funding for homelessness services for people to find, and keep, a home for good. We will be working to build support for these changes in the months ahead. With the numbers sleeping rough continuing to rise, we cannot afford to delay.

    Our Home for Good campaign is calling on the government to put an end to rough sleeping by ensuring that everyone gets the long-term housing and support they need to rebuild their lives. Sign Kevin’s open letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

    “The dignity and respect she deserved”

    Image: Map of London

    St Mungo’s project worker, Shayeena, explains how the Street Impact project enabled her to provide innovative, holistic support for our client June when she really needed it

    Working at St Mungo’s you sometimes receive some difficult phone calls. But last week I got a call that really made me smile.

    I received a voicemail from a man who had recently been bereaved. He said he was a relative of June, and was sorting out her affairs. While he was doing this he came across her old phone, and by looking at the messages she had saved, he came to understand more about June’s story, and the part St Mungo’s had played in helping her rebuild her life after experiencing homelessness. He had called to thank me for all our support for her.

    I met and supported June. She told me she had come to the UK from Ghana in 2002, fleeing domestic violence, on a three-month tourist visa. She overstayed her visa and worked informally, before borrowing a friend’s document to get official work in a supermarket.

    However, in 2010 she was diagnosed with a serious illness and her accommodation and social networks started to break down. She ended up rough sleeping in central London and eventually was picked up and placed into a detention centre.

    At this time St Mungo’s had just established our Street Impact project, which was designed to develop innovative ways to tackle rough sleeping in London. It was the first such project to be funded by a Social Impact Bond (SIB). This meant the running costs were funded by social investors, who were reimbursed by the Greater London Authority on a ‘payments-by-results’ basis.

    This meant we only received payment if it achieved certain agreed outcomes, including reducing rough sleeping and helping people into tenancies, while working with a group of 415 rough sleepers.

    Payment by results meant we were free to innovate in the ways we supported people, and take a much more holistic model in helping them rebuild their lives. June was among those 415 people.

    When we contacted the detention centre about June they told us she had been released but gave us no other information. We eventually tracked her down in north London. We sent her a letter with our phone number and she called us straight away.

    At that point June was 69, depressed, withdrawn, clearly isolated and in need of assistance. While in detention, she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer but was still living on £35 vouchers per week and sharing a room with a lady suffering from post-traumatic stress who would wail throughout the night, meaning that June was getting very little sleep.

    The Home Office eventually granted June exceptional Leave to Remain on medical grounds. Alongside her solicitor, I was able to support June through this stressful experience, and then help June to get a home in a sheltered housing scheme. This was an incredibly complicated process, involving her council’s homelessness team, supported housing team and social services.

    Because of the innovative way we were able to work within Street Impact, however, I could support June with everything from taxi fares to hospital visits, gathering evidence for an appeal and securing donations of furniture. Eventually we were able to establish a support network for June that included medical staff, social workers, the local hospice, a minister from her local church and a St Mungo’s palliative care volunteer.

    We also helped her to stay in contact with her family in Ghana, which had become harder for her as her speech deteriorated. She was 70 by then, not used to computers, and found it hard to speak on the phone. With her consent, I started emailing her family and asked her daughter to send photos of her young granddaughter (who June had never seen) and printed these all out for her and framed a couple so she could keep them in her living room. She was so happy to have these… I remember her laughing with joy and looking at the prints over and over again. In her final years she was treated with dignity and respect that she deserved.

    Much of this would have been impossible under a more conventional outreach model. Despite everything she had been through, I think June managed to trust me and my colleagues and this allowed us to help her.

    Find out more about Street Impact.

     

    A safe, secure future for homeless hostels

    The government’s decision to not go ahead with proposed changes to funding for supported housing is a victory for our #SaveHostels campaign. Robyn Casey, St Mungo’s Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, explains why this is so important and why we now need to secure funding for support costs

    This week the government announced that it will not go ahead with proposed changes to funding for supported housing, including homeless hostels.

    We have campaigned hard to protect funding for these life-saving services over the last two years. Our #Save Hostels campaign focused on this issue, and more than 12,000 people signed our petition calling on the government not to put homeless hostels at risk.

    We’re thrilled that the government has listened to us and our campaigners, and committed to continue using Housing Benefit to fund hostel housing costs.

    Why is it so important to fund housing costs in this way?

    Homeless hostels are a type of supported housing which help people to get back on their feet after a period of crisis as they look towards living independently. They enable people to live in a safe environment, while receiving support to rebuild their lives away from the street.

    Hostels are funded in two ways:

    • residents claim Housing Benefit to pay for the cost of their accommodation
    • the local council provides funding for the support staff who work closely with residents to help them to achieve their goals

    The government had proposed to change the way these services were funded by taking housing costs out of Housing Benefit. Instead, local councils would have been responsible for funding both housing and support costs.

    At St Mungo’s we were very concerned about these proposals. We felt they would have put homeless hostels at serious risk of closure, and left many people without anywhere to turn for support.

    The government stated that using local councils to distribute funding wouldn’t lead to a reduction in the amount of money available to services. This was a welcome reassurance, but our experience with this type of funding told a very different story.

    Funding for the support provided in our services has massively reduced over the past decade, after a ring-fence around this funding was removed. In fact, a report by the National Audit Office found that it has declined by 59 per cent since 2010. (PDF) This has left some services struggling to survive, and funding housing costs in the same way could have been devastating.

    Instead, the government has listened to calls from across the sector and retained funding within Housing Benefit.

    This means homeless hostels will have a stable income and a more secure future. We will continue to be able to invest in improving existing services and developing new ones and, crucially, provide safe places for people to stay and rebuild their lives after sleeping rough.

    What next?

    Increased oversight

    Housing costs within supported housing can be higher than in other rented properties. This is because there is a higher turnover of residents, and additional costs for the maintenance of communal spaces. The government recognises that these additional costs are justified, but would like to increase oversight of the sector to make sure that taxpayer money is being used effectively.

    St Mungo’s would welcome the opportunity to contribute to these plans. We are proud of the services we provide and the support we give our clients, and look forward to working with the government to ensure that the high standards we hold ourselves to is reflected across all services.

    A long term, strategic approach to funding for support

    While the government’s decision on housing costs is very welcome, there is still work to be done to restore funding for support costs. We are pleased that the government has also announced that it will review housing related support to better understand how the system currently works. We look forward to working with them on this issue and demonstrating the need for a secure support system which is fit for the future.

    But there is much more to be done to make sure that everyone has a safe and secure place to live. That’s why we’re launching a new campaign in the autumn calling on the government to end rough sleeping for good. Be the first to hear all about it – sign up to campaign with us today.

    How can we halt the rise in ‘returners’?

    Rory Weal, St Mungo’s Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, looks at why more people are returning to rough sleeping and why the Government needs to act now to halt a worrying trend

    For those of us passionate about ending homelessness there was, for once, some welcome news last week. New figures from the latest annual CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) report (PDF) showed that there has been an 8% decrease in the number of people sleeping rough in London.

    The 7,484 people who were seen rough sleeping in 2017/18 is the lowest total since 2013/14, although it is still over twice the number seen ten years ago.

    London seems to be bucking the national trend, suggesting services are working better together to prevent people sleeping rough in the first place, as well as helping them off the streets quickly if they end up there.

    Rising numbers returning to rough sleeping

    However, we should be under no illusion that the annual CHAIN statistics paint a rosy picture. Among the positives, the figures also give serious causes for concern – not least on the rising number of people returning to rough sleeping after a period off the streets.

    In 2017/18, 1,119 people seen rough sleeping during the year were returners, representing a rise of 8% on the previous year and 27% since 2014/15. While overall numbers have gone down, the total number of returners continues to rise. In addition to the number of people sleeping rough, the CHAIN database also records the outcomes for people seen sleeping rough in London. These figures suggest the root of the problem is an increasing reliance on short term accommodation, with people who have experienced rough sleeping finding longer term sustainable housing harder and harder to access.

    Of those who had been sleeping rough and were booked into accommodation last year, 78% moved into short-term accommodation (such as hostels). Just 22% found mid-long term housing (such as the private rented sector or long term supported housing), a fall from the previous year.

    At the same time, the proportion of people leaving short-term accommodation to take up a place in longer term housing has halved in three years, from 40% in 2014/15 to 21% in 2017/18. Many of those who fail to find a home are moving back onto the streets, with ‘negative’ reasons for departure from hostels and other short-term options also rising in recent years.

    Why do people return to rough sleeping?

    To shed more light on the reasons people return to rough sleeping after time off the streets, St Mungo’s has published a new report, On my own two feetThe research, carried out by peer researchers with experience of homelessness and rough sleeping, uncovered many reasons people end up being pushed and pulled back to life on the streets.

    The research revealed multiple barriers to accessing long-term housing for people with experience of rough sleeping, including the reluctance of landlords to let to people receiving benefits, a lack of truly affordable rents, money for a deposit or support for individuals to manage their tenancies.

    The keys to ending rough sleeping for good

    How can we make things better? At St Mungo’s we believe the Government should use its upcoming rough sleeping strategy to increase long term accommodation options for people with a history of sleeping rough and guarantee funding for accompanying support.

    One model which should be expanded is the Clearing House in London, which offers ring-fenced social housing for people with a history of rough sleeping and ongoing support to help them cope with living independently and move towards employment. Another good model is Housing First, which provides stable tenancies and intensive support for people who have complex needs.

    We know that getting people into suitable, long term housing with appropriate support is key to ending rough sleeping for good. We now need action to achieve this. We cannot allow the rise in returners to become the start of a worrying new trend.

     

Go back