Our campaign to save hostels
Over the past two years, Government proposals to change the way homelessness hostels are funded by taking them out of the benefits system have created huge uncertainty and put the future of hundreds of hostels at risk.
Now, thanks to your hard work, we’ve won our campaign to get the Government to drop these plans! It means homelessness hostels will continue to be supported through the benefits system and not made totally reliant on council grant funding which is less secure and easily eroded given the pressure on local budgets.
This is a massive win for our Save Hostels campaign, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Over 12,000 campaigners signed our petition and clients and campaigners sent 2,000 postcards to the Homelessness Minister, Heather Wheeler.
As part of the Government announcement that they won't go ahead with these funding changes, Ministers have also made welcome promises to review the wider funding given to hostels and to make sure they're all providing good value for money.
But there's much more to do to end rough sleeping and we need your help to do it. We will be launching a new campaign in the autumn. Sign up to hear more about the campaign ways you can get involved as a St Mungo’s campaigner.
Why save hostels?
In 2016, St Mungo's supported housing projects - or hostels - gave 4,120 people somewhere safe to stay, over half of whom have slept rough.
For many people who have been homeless, the route to recovery is less than straightforward. Poor physical and mental health can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness, and without the right kind of support, it can be difficult to move on. Supported housing projects give people with complex or multiple physical and mental health needs an environment in which to recover and rebuild their lives.
Not only that, but accommodating single homeless people with support needs in specialist housing saves an estimated £6,703 per person annually by reducing costs to health, social care and criminal justice services.
With the right support at the right time, people can recover and rebuild their lives after being homeless.To find out more, download our report
Rob had been homeless on and off for 20 years when he arrived at St Mungo’s.
He had lost his live-in job when he was 17, and had to stay on the floor of a drug dealer’s flat. Fearing for his safety, he left, sleeping rough around London.
This was the start of a long battle with addiction and mental health problems that saw Rob bounce between services that were ill-equipped to help him, often spending periods sleeping rough.
Rob had been in an abstinence programme when he came to St Mungo’s – his tenancy had ended while he was in treatment, so he was at risk of being discharged with nowhere to stay.
He managed to get a little extra funding through his mental health trust, which gave him the time he needed to secure a place at Wood Lane hostel.
“The keywork was incredible – there was a plan put in action within two days of me moving in that was monitored. It was like ‘this is what you want to achieve, these are your goals’, so I kept being refreshed – ‘look, this is what you want to do’.
When I had nothing, everything I wanted I had to put onto paper, and they’d make sure that I would achieve that. I got my debts cleared, I got rehoused, I got my benefits sorted out, all these little things build those pages, and before you know, it turns into the book.”
Rob stayed at Wood Lane for 15 months, volunteering and attending college. Thanks to a discretionary housing payment from his local council, he was able to move on and into his own flat.
He is now a peer research worker with Groundswell, and sits on the London Homeless Health Board which aims to improve homeless people’s access to health services.
“I would say it was more than a foundation, they showed me how to be a person again.”
Mandy has had mental health problems throughout her life, and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when she was 27.
In 2012, Mandy lived in a one bedroom flat in Islington, London. After re-connecting with her foster family, she decided to give up her flat and move back home to be with her family.
After six months, her relationship with her foster family broke down and Mandy felt she had to leave. She had nowhere to live, so found herself sofa surfing for a few weeks. She approached her local council and was offered temporary accommodation, but was told she could not bring her dog, Skye. Mandy did not want to give up her Staffie, so ended up on the streets.
Mandy slept rough for two and a half weeks. She attempted suicide while she was living on the streets.
Eventually, a friend informed Mandy of a local church where she could get some food and shower. From there, she was put in touch with St Mungo’s and an outreach team approached her while she was sleeping on a bench and moved her into a St Mungo’s hostel.
“I have had some highs and lows in my life, but right now I am on a high. My confidence has grown and I am very proud of myself.”
Mandy now lives in a St Mungo’s project in Islington which is for people with low-medium support needs.
“I am at a turning point in my life, where my life is more positive. I can honestly say I am doing things I never thought I would do. If it wasn’t for St Mungo’s I would most likely be dead, they saved my life.”