Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2024

    Every February we get to celebrate National Apprenticeships Week across the UK and showcase the value, benefit and opportunity our apprentices bring especially to St. Mungo’s.

    For the last 15 years we have offered an award-winning Apprenticeship scheme for people with lived experience of using support services and almost 200 Apprentices have been through the scheme.

    Peter is an Apprentice Support Worker at one of our services and wanted to highlight how the apprenticeship scheme has helped him make a difference to peoples’ lives. Here’s what he had to say:

    “The opportunity has meant I have been able to make a real difference in peoples’ lives.

    I have had the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally.”

    Noel is another apprentice working in a dynamic and varied role. Below is what he had to say about his time so far:

    “Being an on an apprenticeship with St Mungo’s has given me diverse experiences that I hadn’t had before specially working alongside my clients and understanding with a more in depth knowledge on how to support my team and clients. Having a good, strong team has helped with my development and growing my confidence in key working daily. Everyday I learn news things. My biggest achievement throughout the apprenticeship is that I have got more leadership skills and I am able to manage people & empower them to thrive for their goals.”

    This National Apprenticeship Week, we want to thank the nearly 200 people with lived experience of using support services who have gone through our apprenticeship scheme – together with the services who hosted their apprenticeships and the managers who supported them.

    Increase in homelessness stats paints a bleak picture for those on London’s streets – with the impending return of cold weather increasing danger.

    New data was released today (31 January 2024) by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) which covers October to December 2023. In total, 4389 people were recorded as rough sleeping in London between October-December 2023, this is an increase of 23% on the same period last year.

    2283 people rough sleeping for the first time, a 34% increase on the same figure this time last year and with new rough sleepers accounting for 52% the total. 

    560 people deemed to be living on the streets, 16% higher than the immediately preceding period (July-September) and 24% higher year over year. 

    1610 people were intermittently rough sleeping, 10% higher than the same period last year. 

    Across November to January 2024, St Mungo’s responded to the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) across London, bringing hundreds of people in per night to safe accommodation and following up pathways of recovery, housing and health support to bring clients off the streets for good. 

    With the bitter weather looming again for February, the organisation is calling for emergency support to be introduced, until Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are unfrozen in April. The Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) funding, due to end in a year’s time, should also be extended to offer some certainty against the backdrop of the homelessness crisis. 

    These shocking stats come at a time where most Local Authorities are preparing their budgets for the new financial year, with Councils last week warning of a potential collapse due to the demand for temporary accommodation and homelessness prevention. Homelessness organisations are also facing similar challenges in keeping up with demand and this release serves as a stark reminder for renewed action from Government. 

     

    Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, Emma Haddad, said: “Figures evidencing the picture of homelessness in our capital have once again seen a really worrying rise. This is not a surprise – our outreach teams across London have been inundated with new people arriving onto the streets. The shortage of affordable and appropriate housing is leaving far too many people vulnerable. We urge the Government to take measures that would halt the escalating numbers of people who are sleeping rough and having to spend their nights in the cold.” 

    She continued: “Homelessness is preventable but St Mungo’s frontline workers are too often trying to help people out of the cold who didn’t need to end up there in the first place. We are calling for emergency support to get people into housing until Local Housing Allowance rates are unfrozen in April and, with the bitter weather looming again for February, we need a pause on evictions from Home Office asylum accommodation when the severe weather occurs.” 

    St Mungo’s successfully awarded largest new contract to revolutionise helping homeless people in the capital

    St Mungo’s is thrilled to announce it will continue to deliver the Mayor’s No Second Night Out service, which is an innovative and integral service to help those experiencing rough sleeping and homelessness in the capital.    

    No Second Night Out (NSNO) which has been delivered by leading charity St Mungo’s since 2011 now plays a vital role in ending rough sleeping in London. In 2022/23, the service assisted 1,887 people, approximately 19% of were those observed sleeping rough in London. 87.5% of those supported through NSNO did not return to rough sleeping. 

    The new contract term, which launches on 1st April, will be delivered across a network of assessment hubs and single room accommodation, including two new sites in West and Central London –adding to the existing network of sites. 

    No Second Night Out is now the largest assessment service commissioned in the UK for people experiencing rough sleeping. The St Mungo’s team will build upon years of expert knowledge, learning and proven success to tailor accessible and sustainable routes away from the street and the dangers that the most vulnerable in our communities’ face. 

    NSNO client, Patience, said:I would describe my experience in NSNO as great and a step in the right direction! Away from the cold, I felt safe and grateful to have someone to talk to. Staffs were very helpful, and I had everything I needed. My safe space stay was extended by the team before I was moved to staging post and I am grateful for this” 

    Emma Haddad, CEO at St Mungo’s, said: “St Mungo’s NSNO is a critical service to address homelessness and help people off the streets for good. It’s quite literally a lifeline. I am so pleased that our charity will continue to use our expertise to deliver the service over the coming years, where it will no doubt be vitally needed. Our expert teams work tirelessly to ensure NSNO means a route away from the streets and onto a journey of recovery and achieving ambitions. With today’s CHAIN data showing numbers of people experiencing homelessness continuing to worsen, this support is more important than ever.”

    The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The latest figures for rough sleeping on London’s streets are very worrying. The cost-of-living crisis, rising rents and benefit cuts have created the perfect storm forcing people into homelessness.

    “That’s why I am proud to fund services such as No Second Night Out which assesses each person’s individual situation and provides tailored support. This new contract will boost the support available London-wide and help ensure that those sleeping rough can access the vital help they need.

    “As Mayor, I’m determined to do everything I can to end rough sleeping in the capital for good, and build a better, fairer London for all.”

    The impact of unmet care needs amongst people experiencing homelessness

    Matt Bawden and James Lally, Service Directors and Leads for Health and Care at St Mungo’s recently contributed to an article published by the Clinical Medicine Journal, a Royal College of Physicians publication. Here they discuss their work on the survey, and how it ties into our critical work to support the health of people experiencing homelessness.  

    People living in homeless hostels: a survey of health care needs, a project undertaken by St Mungo’s in collaboration with Transformation Partners in Health and Care and Marie Curie with the support of 8 other hostel providers. The work expands on the work in our Life Changing Care report and incorporates findings from 58 hostels across London bringing our findings around health and care needs in our service settings to an all-new audience. Being involved in this research has helped highlight the prevalence and impact of unmet care needs amongst people experiencing homelessness. 

    Work initially began on the Life Changing Care report with Matt and Dr Caroline Shulman. At the time Caroline was Co-Clinical Lead for the Homeless Health programme, Transformation Partners in Health and Care. Caroline has long highlighted the unmet needs amongst hostel populations, so she helped us to design a questionnaire for use in our services at St Mungo’s which quantified the needs of our clients. This formed the basis of our Life Changing Care report which was published last year. The research highlighted the challenges that people experiencing homelessness face when accessing care. It also confirmed that many are forced to access accommodation that does not adequately meet their needs as a consequence. It also confirmed the need for more specialist care homes such as those already provided by St Mungo’s, Hilldrop Road and Chichester Road. As such, Matt has been leading a working group to develop policy, guidance and training for colleagues. This aims to better equip staff to understand Care Act legislation including powers and duties as well as to refer and escalate/challenge decisions when appropriate. We hope this will further support achieving better outcomes for clients with unmet care needs. 

    Following the success of our Life Changing Care report, the questionnaire was then amended slightly and rolled out across a number of partner organisations. Both data collection exercises were then used for the basis of the People living in homeless hostels: a survey of health care needs article. The research within both the report and the article has been a powerful tool to evidence unmet care needs amongst people experiencing homelessness. We are using it to design a Complex Needs Care Service which we hope can meet the needs of this incredibly vulnerable group; working in partnership with a broad range of partners in doing so. The new service would be aimed at people who we believe have Care Act eligible needs but are currently without an agreed care package or placement.  

    Find out more about our Health Services here.

     

    Rough sleeping is not a lifestyle choice – St Mungo’s responds to Home Secretary

    St Mungo’s is deeply concerned by the Home Secretary’s recent comments on homelessness and rough sleeping.

    Rough sleeping is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but the result of many complex factors. The Government should be focusing on the chronic shortage of housing and statutory support services, rather than condemning vulnerable people and the organisations that prevent them from dying on the streets.

    Latest statistics show record numbers of people forced into rough sleeping. It is ironic that currently one of the biggest drivers of homelessness is the government’s approach to clearing the backlog of asylum claims. It is the government’s choice that people are sleeping in tents, not a lifestyle choice.

    St Mungo’s priority is to find people a path out of homelessness. The Government must ensure no-one finds themselves there in the first place, and unfreezing housing benefit so that people can actually afford a proper roof over their heads must be the government’s biggest priority.

    St Mungo’s has co-signed a letter to the Home Secretary, asking her to urgently reconsider proposals to criminalise the use of tents by people sleeping rough: https://www.crisis.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/open-letter-to-home-secretary-suella-braverman-on-government-proposals-to-criminalise-the-use-of-tents-by-people-sleeping-rough/ 

     

    Background:

    Rough sleeping figures releases in October 2023 show that:

    • In total, 4068 people were recorded as rough sleeping in the capital between Jul-Sep 2023, this is an increase of 12% on the same period last year.
    • 2086 people rough sleeping for the first time, a 13% increase on the same figure this time last year.
    • 481 people deemed to be living on the streets, 17% higher than the immediately preceding period (Apr-Jun)
    • 1561 people were intermittently rough sleeping, 16% higher than the same period last year.

    St Mungo’s provides a variety of services to help people off the streets and recover from homelessness. These include outreach, hostels and supported accommodation, as well as immigration advice, mental health support and provision for victims of domestic violence. Additionally, our Recovery College also provides a learning, training and employment service.

    Thames Charity row raises thousands for St Mungo’s

    This month, Group Director of Repairs and Maintenance at Peabody, Neil Watts presented a £16,000 cheque to St Mungo’s following a 200km row from Reading to Leigh on Sea, via London. Neil visited St Mungo’s Endsleigh Gardens to hand over the cheque and to see firsthand where the funds will make a difference to the lives of those recovering from homelessness.

    The Charity row on the River Thames was in memory of the late Lord Bob Kerslake, who was the Chair for the Peabody Trust. Lord Kerslake sadly passed away in July this year. Neil wanted to honour Bob’s work and his commitment to ending homelessness by rowing to raise funds for St Mungo’s. St Mungo’s is the secretariat for The Kerslake Commission.

    Neil, with a team of four, rowed for five days, went through 20 locks, weaved through heavy boat traffic and bridges and navigated some difficult weather conditions to reach the finish line.

    Neil said: “I was really excited to be taking part in this charity row, supporting St Mungo’s and our late chair, Bob.

    “It’s important to Peabody that we continue his incredible work, so choosing a charity that’s dedicated to ending homelessness is the perfect fit.

    “Thank you all for your generous support and in joining together in memory of Bob and his tremendous career of service”.

    Reta Robinson, Director of Fundraising at St Mungo’s said: “On behalf of everyone at St Mungo’s, we were deeply saddened to learn of the devastating passing of Lord Bob Kerslake. Bob was a dedicated champion of the homelessness sector, with a deep-rooted commitment to end rough sleeping.

    “We are extremely touched by Neil and the team fundraising for St Mungo’s whilst remembering Lord Kerslake’s life and legacy.”

    Government figures show homelessness at record high amidst spiralling housing affordability crisis.

    Today, Friday 13 October, new figures released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show that homelessness has reached a record high. 298,430 households faced homelessness in England in 2022/23, up by 6.8% compared to the previous year.  The number of households in temporary accommodation was recorded at 104,510, also the highest on record. 

    Rapidly rising rents and a lack of security means that there was a 27.4% increase in the number of households who faced homelessness due to a private rented tenancy coming to an end. Meanwhile there was a 30.5% increase in people assessed by the local authority as sleeping rough. 

    Responding to these figures, Emma Haddad, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: 

    “Today sees yet more devastating evidence of how the lack of affordable housing is resulting in thousands of people unable to keep a roof over their heads and literally forcing people onto the streets. 

    It doesn’t have to be this way. There are interventions that would prevent people getting to the brink of homelessness and reverse this homelessness crisis. Today I have written to the Chancellor, along with colleagues across the sector, imploring him once again to raise housing benefit so that it covers the bottom 30% of local rents, as per the Government’s own stated policy, rather than just 5% of rented accommodation as now. The human impact is clear, as is the benefit to the public purse: the freeze on housing benefit is feeding a growing temporary accommodation bill that cost at least £1.6b last year.”  

     

    First-person account from a London Outreach Worker at St Mungo’s 

    The number of people we’re seeing on the streets is increasing. We’re seeing more people because of section 21 notices and landlords putting rent up and a lot younger people who we’d never see before.  There are too many people for the provisions that we have. We need more spaces in services. In some areas there can be hotspots of 20-30 people sleeping rough and day centres can see up to 100 people coming a day sometimes.  

    Often the people we’re seeing never would have traditionally used our services before. They’re people who have never rough slept and have gone to their local authorities but are still not being housed as their not high enough priority, so are slipping through the net.  

    People are also moving through services slower. It’s so hard to get people into private rented now because rent prices are so much higher and are over the local housing allowance most of the time. So, we’re really struggling to match people with affordable property, which means people are having to stay on the streets longer, which is really difficult.  

    Rough sleeping at any point is always going to be traumatic, living with that fear and feeling of becoming the ‘other’. But often the longer people are on the streets, the harder it can become to support them away. We’re seeing a lot younger people become homeless due to things like landlords raising their rent prices.   

    If you’re under 35 and haven’t lived in supported accommodation or been in care, for example, for three months. You’re not exempt from the local housing tax. So, whilst you’d be entitled to a room in a shared house, with the rising rent costs, it just isn’t enough.   

    The local housing allowance sometimes isn’t even covering the rents. And then if people are having to use a Universal Credit to cover that shortfall, it leaves them with nothing. Most people will get £320 a month, if you have to say take even 100 pounds out of that, it’s a significant amount.  

    Often people become trapped in a benefit cycle where it isn’t affordable for them to get a job. Most of our clients don’t want to remain on credit, they want to find employment but it’s becoming harder.  

    The effect of all of this is difficult. The focus of our team is doing assessments. If we meet someone tonight, we’ll be doing an assessment on the street, understanding how we can support them and what that action plan is to solve their homelessness. But often there’s not that immediate solution. So, you still have to walk away which is really tough.  

    It’s heartbreaking walking away from people and not having a safe place you can give them.  

    Compared to this time last year, this period feels much busier and the flow on the streets is faster. Whilst the move through services feels slower, as people are having to wait for longer term accommodation for longer.  

    We’re also seeing more making self-referrals and actively asking for that help themselves.  

    During the pandemic, rough sleeping was seen as a health emergency and eligibility wasn’t part of the equation of who was given housing because it was a life saving measure which was incredible. It really shone a light on what we can do with the right resources provided. But now we’ve moved away from that again and the options aren’t there. It’s not as straightforward as let’s get you inside and get you a good sleep which is frustrating.   

    We’re also seeing people who are in employment becoming homeless, because a lot of the work that’s available like hospitality, isn’t near affordable housing. So, when they get a job they can’t be anywhere near where they’re working and to travel in and out of work is expensive. So, there’s often lots of layers.   

    Government won’t meet its target to end rough sleeping by 2024 says panel of experts

    Chronic and unresolved systemic issues have left country exposed to rising homelessness

    Strong partnership working and a shared purpose made a massive reduction to rough sleeping during the pandemic, but we are now beyond ways of working. The current Government and next administration must take urgent action to address the rapidly rising rates of homelessness and rough sleeping, which stem from a severe shortage in affordable housing, a lack of appropriate support services, and a cost-of-living crisis that is pushing more and more people into homelessness. This is the recommendation of the latest report of the Kerslake Commission, established to learn the lessons from Everyone In, a report which is a blueprint for tackling homelessness and rough sleeping and a tribute to its former Chair, Lord Bob Kerslake.

    Latest national official figures show a 26% increase in rough sleeping and the highest rates of people living in temporary accommodation on record. As political parties prepare for their party conferences, the Commission recommends three key principles that should guide the next administration’s approach to end homelessness and rough sleeping for good:

    • Prevent people from getting to the brink of homelessness – We need to be preventing people from reaching crisis point and becoming homeless or at risk of homelessness
    • No one should need to arrive on to the streets to get help – Where people are at risk of rough sleeping, there should be a cross sector effort to make timely and effective interventions that prevent an episode of rough sleeping
    • Everyone should have a route out of rough sleeping – For anyone who is rough sleeping, there needs to be a meaningful and tailored offer which will take them away from the streets for good

    The report is clear that the Government will not meet its goal to end rough sleeping by 2024. In fact, rough sleeping is on the increase and at the heart of it are chronic and unresolved systemic issues, which have left the country vulnerable to new pressures. The report warns that many of the problems outlined would be resolved if there was more supply of social rented housing and supported housing and likens the scale of the challenges to early 20th century Britain.

    Drawing on evidence from local authorities, homelessness service providers and people with lived experience, the Kerslake Commission strongly advocates that prevention and system change must form the basis of a robust response, rather than solely responding to people in crisis. In the interim, the Commission is urgently calling on the Government to increase housing benefit so that it covers local affordable rents.

    Responding to the report, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, Emma Haddad, said: “The dedication of people working throughout the homelessness sector shines through the report, but it sets out starkly that we are working against the tide. The chronic shortage of affordable housing and appropriate support services means we are just responding to people already in crisis rather than preventing them from reaching that point in the first place. The recommendations give a clear set of actions to both the current Government and the next administration that would make a big difference to tackling rough sleeping and homelessness. They would do well to listen to the expert voices contained in the report.

    “We made so much progress on rough sleeping during the pandemic, which clearly demonstrated what can be done when we work together with a shared purpose and dedicated funding. It’s time we applied the same energy to stop this homelessness and rough sleeping crisis spiralling further.

    “When Bob Kerslake died in July 2023, we lost a staunch ally of the homelessness sector. This report is a tribute to him and his life’s work.”

    The Kerslake family said: “After over 40 years as a public servant, many of which were spent on delivering quality homes and environments, Bob was saddened and dismayed by the rise of homelessness across our country. He was proud to chair the commission and totally committed to its findings. He would have been vociferous in publishing its conclusions and recommendations.

    “His main focus would have been persuading those who have the power to make positive changes to read this report in depth, then work together to meet those recommendations. As his family, we firmly believe that this would be a fitting tribute to a great man who worked tirelessly for the betterment of others.”

    The Kerslake Commission was steered and directed by Lord Bob Kerslake until his untimely passing in July 2023 and this report has been built from his legacy.

    St Mungo’s urges Government to support homeless Londoners as homelessness figures rise by 9%

    New data released today (31 July 2023) by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) shows the total number of people sleeping rough in London between April and June 2023 was 3,272.

    This represents a 9% increase compared with the 2,998 people recorded as sleeping rough in the same period the previous year. 

    The latest CHAIN data revealed, of those people sleeping rough, that: 

    • 1,614 were doing so for the first time, 12% higher than the same period last year 

    • 411 people were considered to be living on the streets. 

    • 1,285 people were seen intermittently sleeping rough, which is 8% higher than the same period last year. 

     

    Emma Haddad, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: 

    It is desperately sad that the number of people sleeping rough in London continues to rise. The ongoing failure to address the severe housing shortage and affordability crisis is clear. 

    “As rents spiral, more and more London residents are falling into homelessness. We know that less than 2% of rental properties in the capital are affordable for people receiving Housing Benefit. Once again, we are calling on the Government to urgently increase Housing Benefit so that it properly reflects the cost of renting. Without immediate intervention, homelessness in London will simply worsen. 

    “St Mungo’s services across the city continue to work tirelessly with the increasing number of people who need our support to rebuild their lives away from the streets.” 

    St Mungo’s wins another London Homelessness Award

    St Mungo’s Roma Rough Sleeping Team has been announced as a winner of the London Homelessness Awards.

    The London Homelessness Awards (LHA) recognise projects across London which use creativity, imagination and initiative to improve services for people experiencing homelessness.

    The team will receive a share of a £60,000 prize fund, with details to be announced at a ceremony in November.

    The Roma Rough Sleeping Team, funded by the GLA through the Rough Sleeping Initiative, works to:

    • challenge discrimination against people from the Roma community 
    • demonstrate that it is possible to deliver sustainable homelessness interventions that enable people to end their rough sleeping for good  
    • provide tailored, culturally competent casework directly to Roma clients who are rough sleeping in London.

    The team has helped over 200 individuals get the specialist support they need to continue with their recovery. This includes culturally aware drop-in sessions that improve access to immigration advice and healthcare services.

    The service is delivered in partnership with The Passage, who provide immigration advice and bespoke support to Roma clients to enter employment including in work support as they settle into their new job. The Roma Rough Sleeping Team will use the prize money to enhance the support they are able to provide to individuals who are seeking employment.

    Nico Bitu, Service Manager, Roma Rough Sleeping Team says: “It has been a real team effort, and I have a deep respect for each of my team members, in particular for the dedication, determination, and resilience that they have shown in ending rough sleeping for our Roma clients. There are many challenges ahead and lots of hard work to be done, but the recognition that comes with this award will give us energy for the years to come.”

    David Fisher, Executive Director of Client Services, adds: “I am delighted for the Roma Rough Sleeping Team that their amazing work has been recognised by the London Homelessness Awards. It emphasises how important their work is in supporting Roma people to have equal access to services and support. The team also share their knowledge and expertise with London local authorities and have trained hundreds of professionals on culturally competent responses to Roma rough sleeping. Everyone at St Mungo’s is very proud of their work.”

    The team will be awarded its prize alongside three other finalists: Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid Safe Beds SchemeEnfield Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub and SLAM START Homeless Outreach Services.

    Find out more about the awards and the nominated projects here.

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