On Thursday 23 September, St Mungo’s marked formal launch of the final report by the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping.
St Mungo’s has been providing secretariat support to the Commission, which is chaired by the former head of the civil service Lord Bob Kerslake and was formed to examine and learn the lessons from the emergency response to supporting people sleeping rough during the covid-19 pandemic.
The prestigious launch event, held at the Headquarters of the Local Government Association, saw a series of speeches and reflections delivered to more than 100 attendees, both in person and virtually. The event brought together key stakeholders including St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes.
In his opening speech, Lord Kerslake spoke of the pressing need to take “positive action” to ensure the “gains” made in the pandemic towards saving lives, and ending rough sleeping, are not lost. He said: “Rough sleeping was recognised for what it is – both a health and a housing issue. I genuinely believe that if the recommendations of our report are followed through, then it is clear that ending rough sleeping can be achieved.”
The Commission’s final report – A new way of working: ending rough sleeping together – incorporates the findings of the Commission’s interim report published in July. It makes 12 key recommendations for central Government, local authorities, homelessness organisations, housing providers and health organisations, outlining systemic changes to transform the positive response to tackling rough sleeping during the pandemic into a long-term, whole-systems approach to address street homelessness.
Speaking virtually at the event, Commission member Mayor Andy Burnham reflected on the report’s findings and said: “This work – the ‘Everyone In’ initiative – can’t just be for a pandemic, it’s got to be for life. ‘Everyone In’ should be the national policy, all of the time. Now it falls to the Government to see if they’ll come to the table with us.”
Guests also heard from Eddie Hughes MP, Labour MP for Manchester Central Lucy Powell, and Commission Board Members Taishon Jones, a former St Mungo’s client, and Charlotte Bates, a representative of Expert Citizens, a Community Interest Company run by, and for, people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages.
Guests were particularly moved by Charlotte’s reflections regarding her own lived experiences of homelessness, alcohol use and struggles with her mental health. Addressing guests at the launch, she said: “I had a health need that affected my ability to get housing, and I can’t get over the fact I’m even here. All we want is for someone to listen, and to be able to be here, and hear myself in this report…I never thought I’d get back to society.”
In closing, Homeless Link’s CEO Rick Henderson called the final report a “once in a generation opportunity to end rough sleeping,” with Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparkes echoing his sentiments, saying: “we’re right behind whatever it takes to get Government to implement these changes.”
St Mungo’s hopes the Government will embrace the Commission’s findings, and recognise the final report as a practical and feasible set of goals to help achieve its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024.
For more information on the Commission, please visit www.commissionroughlseeping.org