Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has won two prizes at the Connected Britain awards, a prestigious event that brings together leaders in technology and innovation from across the country.

The charity’s Digital Recovery College won two awards for Community Improvement and Digital Skills during the ceremony held at London’s Business Design Centre from 20-21 September. St Mungo’s was also shortlisted for the Barrier Removal prize.

The team’s triumph comes after the Recovery College – an inclusive learning, training and employment service offering a range of skills, progression, creative and wellbeing classes for St Mungo’s clients – had to adapt its offering from face-to-face learning to online classes and activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As an organisation, St Mungo’s is committed to reducing barriers to digital inclusion for clients and recognises that a lack of basic technology or digital skills can be a huge obstacle for people recovering from homelessness seeking reintegration into the workforce or wider society.

The team, from left to right: Monica Wilson, James Carroll, Anita Nichols, Dan Sutton, Peter Sheerin, Matt Catlow, Lara Farah and Maria Dimouli.

During the pandemic, the team were able to swiftly and innovatively transform the Recovery College into a digital service, enabling more clients than ever to access learning, connect with technology and help to permanently pave their path away from the streets.

Since March 2020, St Mungo’s Digital Recovery College has:

St Mungo’s corporate partners, Tesco Mobile and Clarion Housing Group also generously donated 550 smartphones for clients. The plan now is to offer a blended learning programme of both online and in-person courses.

Reflecting on their awards success, Lara Farah, St Mungo’s Digital Recovery College Manager, said:

“This has been a challenging year for everyone, and we’re so proud of what we’ve achieved. Our team has used the pandemic as an opportunity to promote digital inclusion, bringing both the service and our clients into this new digital age. And ultimately, it’s our dedicated team, the clients and our volunteers who make the Digital Recovery College what it is.

“Moving our service online involved a lot of work both internally and with external partners. It was a process of trial and error and we hope these awards demonstrate that St Mungo’s is leading the way in implementing this approach and this type of service.

“The dedication and passion of our clients shapes every aspect of the Digital Recovery College; from our clients delivering services themselves, to them shaping the content of our offering. I also want to say a huge thank you to the volunteers who’ve generously given their time and expertise throughout the pandemic. These awards recognise the success of our clients, and the hard work of everyone involved including our community, client and corporate partner volunteers.

“We believe that learning can make a huge difference to people’s recovery, and being recognised at the Connected Britain awards is wonderful. We were up against some tough competitors and it’s great knowing the Digital Recovery College is so highly regarded in the connectivity sector. We hope this is only the beginning for tech being used innovatively and successfully in delivering homelessness and recovery services.”

David Fisher, St Mungo’s Executive Director of Client Services, said: “I am delighted that our Recovery College managed to go digital so successfully during the pandemic and that this achievement, and our commitment to digital inclusion for our clients, has been recognised with these awards.”

Pictured: Digital Recovery College Manager Lara Farah

Connected Britain is the UK’s number one event bringing together leaders from the tech eco-system to understand the technology, regulation and investment environment for the rollout of next generation broadband. St Mungo’s also won the Community Improvement category at last year’s ceremony.