Our approach

We run more than 300 projects and services across London and the south of England. Drawing on our clients’ feedback and over 50 years’ experience, we’re committed to delivering tailored, timely and compassionate solutions to the causes and consequences of homelessness.

Psychologically Informed Environments

Psychologically Informed Environments – or PIEs – uses modern psychology to ensure that all aspects of our services are optimised to help our clients recover. From high level understanding of how best to help people with complex needs, to very basic aspects like using colour theory in the décor to create a calm environment, we know that attention to detail is key to helping people get back on their feet.

St Mungo’s was involved in the introduction of PIEs from an early stage, and we’ve been a major contributor to national guidance developed by the Department of Health (Psychologically Informed Services: A Good Practice Guide, 2012).

St Mungo’s PIE Rationale, Framework and Standards provide a set of practical principles or standards for operating a PIE. Projects and services use the standards as a checklist to evaluate their own offerings, with the aim of identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement. There is a separate audit tool to facilitate this self-assessment.

The whole St Mungo’s recovery approach is based on the assumption that we can facilitate the right conditions to help clients to move on in a personal sense and to rebuild their lives. The PIE approach is entirely consistent with, and complements, this recovery approach. PIE places a particular emphasis on helping people working with clients to understand complex trauma and its effects, and on supporting clients to develop positive relationships and mental attitudes that help them move forward.

Involving clients

St Mungo’s is committed to meaningful client involvement at every level of the organisation. Clients are part of how we run our activities, how we plan for the future, and how we make decisions. Our Client Advisory Board ensures the voices and experience of our clients are heard by our Trustees.

In developing our five year strategy we made sure involving clients was one of our five organisational strategic aims, demonstrating how central it is to all our work.

We’ve also introduced the Ladder of Involvement tool. This was recommended by Outside In, St Mungo’s client representative group. Services are encouraged to build on existing work to step up the Ladder of Involvement:

  • Ownership: clients are trusted to take the lead
  • Partnership: developing and co-producing work
  • Participation: making decisions together
  • Consultation: enabling clients to make informed choices
  • Information: listening and explaining

Client Involvement is a standing item on team meeting agendas, in handovers, supervisions, appraisals, reflective practice sessions, team away days and staff, client and volunteer inductions.

Clients are heavily involved in evolving key strategies and reviews, including the development of the St Mungo’s Organisational Strategy, The Organisational Excellence Strategy, The Keyworking Review and The Welfare Reform Working Group.


Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the organisation and the clients we work with. We involve over 1,200 volunteers a year and they bring time, skills and experience and without whom we would be unable to offer the level of services to clients that we do.

We’re accredited with Investing in Volunteers, and value the important contribution that volunteers make. We offer a comprehensive training and support package to ensure that volunteers are given the knowledge to work effectively with our clients and to understand homelessness and its complexities.

From January 2021 we will be launching a volunteer development program to support volunteers to apply for employment within the organisation.

Student Placements

We offer a range Student placement opportunities for trainee nurses, occupational therapists and social work students. We work with universities across the country and also support overseas placements. Last year students contributed almost 5,700 days.

The placement scheme adds huge value to services where students are placed but is also an important of their development and a key way we can support and educate future professionals.

We believe that by working closely with students and universities we are helping clients to engage with St Mungo’s, whilst shaping the knowledge and understanding of homelessness issues among people who will work closely with our clients for the rest of their careers.


We operate an apprenticeship scheme in the homelessness sector that is only open to people with lived experience of homelessness or have used support services for substance or alcohol use, criminal justice or mental health. Our clients benefit greatly from the support they receive from a staff team with similar experiences.

St Mungo’s won the Best Employer Support for Apprentices category at the Skills for Care awards 2017, Apprenticeship Programme of the Year Gold 2018 and were Apprenticeship Programme of the Year Finalists in 2019.