On the second anniversary of the launch of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s is urging the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to keep ending street homelessness a top priority, warning failure to do so risks missing the target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.
Two years ago today (26 March) the then Homelessness Minister Luke Hall MP wrote to councils and local authorities in England instructing them to do all they could to locate people sleeping rough and provide them with accommodation where they could safely isolate from Covid-19.
It came just three days after the Prime Minister placed the country in lockdown as the first wave of Coronavirus took hold.
St Mungo’s was at the forefront of the logistical operation to source accommodation, co-ordinate support and find and support people to move off the streets across London and the South of England.
In the first weekend staff from the charity helped hundreds of people to safely isolate. The months that followed saw unprecedented partnership working with professionals from the homelessness, health and social care sectors coming together – supported by local government – to help people who had been sleeping rough.
The co-ordinated approach enabled people to access services, advice and support to prevent them from having to return to the streets.
St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “Two years ago we saw an amazing mobilisation of people and resources enabling people who had been experiencing street homelessness to be given a no-strings attached offer of accommodation so that they could safely shield from the virus.
“The extraordinary situation required an extraordinary response and we saw colleagues from across sector coming together and taking innovative and collaborative approaches to supporting people – often removing barriers and taking the support to the clients rather than expecting them to navigate what can be complicated and officious systems.
“The results are clear for all. We had for the first time real tangible evidence that with the political will, backed by the necessary resources, ending street homelessness is achievable.”
According to Government figures around 37,000 people were supported into accommodation in the first eight months, and research published in the Lancet concluded that hundreds of people’s lives were saved by the initiative.
Determined to capture and build on the progress made during Everyone In, St Mungo’s was instrumental in convening the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping chaired by former head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake.
The Commission is comprised of 22 board members including local and national politicians, experts from the health, housing and homelessness sectors, as well as people who have lived experience of homelessness. The secretariat function is provided by St Mungo’s.
In September 2021 The Commission published its widely commended report A new way of working: ending rough sleeping together which made 48 recommendations – and has been described as ‘a blueprint for ending rough sleeping’.
The Commission continues its work, meeting just this week to chart progress against the recommendations.
Mr Douglas, who is an advisor to The Commission, continued: “The Kerslake Commission was always intended to have longevity. It was never going to be a case of us publishing a report which would sit on a shelf and gather dust.
“Its work is as important as ever with the terrible situation in Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis gripping our society. And with little means of support offered in the Spring Statement this week there is the very real prospect that the number of people ending up on our streets will increase.
“Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has a huge brief, but these issues must not slip from his priority list. It is a manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping in this Parliament, and we mustn’t allow the significant progress to be squandered over the next two years.”