Home for Good: New campaign launches to prevent more people returning to rough sleeping

Wednesday 10 October 2018

• Since 2015, London has seen a 27% rise in the number of people returning to rough sleeping after spending at least a year off the streets
• Kevin, 43, shares his own experience of homelessness to demand government action in the new St Mungo’s Home for Good campaign
• St Mungo’s is calling on the government to guarantee long-term funding for homelessness services, build more social housing ring-fenced for rough sleepers and improve the affordability and stability of the private rented sector

The number of people rough sleeping in England has more than doubled since 2010 but, worryingly, more people than ever are returning to rough sleeping after time away from the streets.

St Mungo’s is launching a new campaign, Home for Good, 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 away from the street for good.

The charity is asking people to sign an open letter to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government which was written with Kevin, a former St Mungo’s client.

Kevin, 43, was struggling with long-term substance use, mental health issues and he was homeless. He spent years sleeping on sofas, staying at girlfriend’s houses, in hostels, but kept finding himself back on the streets.

He said: “I had childhood trauma. I lost my mum when I was 12, and started messing around with drugs. I struggled with mental health and addiction. I never had a place to call home. I flittered from girlfriend to girlfriend… staying with partners… in prison. I was ducking and diving, it was very chaotic. The first time I slept rough I’d just come out of prison and had no-where to go. I got an emergency place in a St Mungo’s hostel. I’ll always be thankful for having that place.”

After some time in hostels, Kevin got access to a rent deposit scheme and moved into a flat in the private rented sector. But when he moved, all of the support he had been receiving stopped – he went into a downward spiral, lost the flat and ended up rough sleeping and sofa surfing again.

He said: “That was my first ever flat. Moving on, into your own place, is the scariest time for anyone. A lot of people need ongoing support, I needed ongoing support.”

It took Kevin years to stabilise again. Fortunately, he was able to get more support and eventually secured a new social housing flat which helped him move on with his life. He now wants to share his experiences in this campaign.

Howard Sinclair, St Mungo’s CEO, said: “Twenty years of government action meant that the end of rough sleeping was in sight by 2010. We now need to see that same decisive, long-term action once again to ensure that everyone can find and keep a home for good.”

“There is a real sense of determination building within government and across the country to put a stop to this national scandal. But it’s not enough to help people off the street and think the job is done. Like Kevin, people are returning to the streets. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“The Government has made a start with the Rough Sleeping Strategy, but we need a long-term programme to fund the vital services that keep people safe and off the streets every night and more safe, secure and affordable housing for rough sleepers who so desperately need it. We are asking for support for this campaign as we know that government action can put an end to rough sleeping for good.”

Kevin continues: “Not having a home for all of them years had a really detrimental effect on my psychological wellbeing. I am one of the lucky few who has managed to get stability, I truly believe I am one of the lucky ones.”

The St Mungo’s Home for Good campaign is calling on the Government to:

• Increase the number of social homes available to people with a history of rough sleeping
• Improve the private rented sector to better suit the needs of people with a history of rough sleeping
• Set up a new programme to provide guaranteed, long-term funding for homelessness services.

Spiralling housing costs, increasing insecurity for private renters and cuts to homelessness services have made it harder for people to escape rough sleeping for good. The campaign is presenting real life stories of homelessness to highlight why it can be so hard to move on from rough sleeping and homelessness.

To support the campaign visit mungos.org/homeforgood and sign Kevin’s open letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.