A street outreach service run by leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s which worked tirelessly to support people sleeping rough during the pandemic has won a prestigious London Homelessness Award.
St Mungo’s Westminster Street Outreach Service (Westminster SOS) team and clients celebrated their win at the award ceremony held on Thursday (14 October) at north London’s Union Chapel.
The London Homelessness Awards (LHA) recognise projects across London that use creativity, imagination and initiative to improve services for people experiencing homelessness.
Throughout 2020-21, St Mungo’s ran 26 outreach services in eight cities and towns, including 11 different London boroughs.
After the Government’s direction that anyone sleeping on the streets should be accommodated in Covid-secure accommodation, the outreach teams continued to work day and night to support people into emergency hotels.
From the start of the pandemic until 31 March 2021, Westminster SOS helped people find long-term options away from the street including in emergency hotels, social housing, private rentals and Housing First flats 1,632 times.
Throughout the last year, Westminster SOS has:
- Provided street outreach seven days a week throughout lockdown
- Provided support in emergency Covid-19 hotel provision on behalf of Westminster City Council and the ‘Everyone In’ initiative
- Created a bespoke casework and duty team to work with individuals to ensure everyone was given support and a clear, long-term route away from the street
- Ensured that people from the Roma community who were street homeless in the borough have access to health, accommodation and support with applications to the EU settlement scheme
- Created a through-care team to provide ongoing support to people who move into Temporary Accommodation (TA) and Private Rented Scheme (PRS) accommodation
- Provided an Assessment and Triage team to ensure a swift, local response to those who are new to the streets.
The team was awarded their prize alongside three other finalists.
The top award of £30,000 was awarded to MyBnk – The Money House,
joint second place went to Camden Health Improvement Practice and Southwark Law Centre – Homeless Patients Legal Advocacy Service who received £20,000 each, with St Mungo’s receiving £10,000. The money will be used by each project to enhance and develop its services.
Kathleen Sims, Head of Westminster at St Mungo’s, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled our team has received this prize. It recognises their hard work and dedication, and the brilliant outcomes we’ve achieved during the pandemic working with our partners.
“Over the last 18 months, we were able to offer accommodation based on vulnerability, rather than eligibility, and this response has saved lives. The team worked tirelessly to keep people safe and to make sure everyone had an offer, while also adhering to Government guidelines.
“With more people accessing temporary and private rented accommodation, we plan to invest the prize money in expanding our through-care team. We believe that providing good quality tenancy start-up packs can ensure people get off to the right start. We also know that bespoke, trauma-informed support is needed so that people with a history of rough sleeping can sustain their accommodation.
“Our vision is that people do not return to the street and to continue working with our partners as part of the Westminster Homelessness Partnership. We’re honoured to have been recognised alongside these brilliant organisations and I am so proud of our team.”
Ali who is a St Mungo’s client who was supported by the team during the pandemic, and attended the awards with them, said: “I was homeless and St Mungo’s helped me out and made sure I got off the streets. I am very, very grateful to them and it is nice to see them recognised here at these awards.”
St Mungo’s Director of Westminster, Rough Sleepers and Migrants Petra Salva said: “They are a great bunch and they work very, very hard.
“They are such an amazing team and it is so nice for them to get external recognition from this award and to be up alongside such other inspirational projects.
“And I am very proud of them.”
Find out more about the awards and the nominated projects here.