Q 1 )Who are you and what do you do?
At St Mungo’s we want everyone to have a place to call home, we’re a homelessness charity and housing association supporting people to prevent or respond to their homelessness enabling their recovery. Nightly we provide accommodation and support to 2,700 people, homeless or at risk. We help people sleeping rough in London, Bristol, the South East and South West of England, providing local services and campaigning nationally.
Q 2) How did St Mungo’s charity begin?
In 1969, a group started going and talking to people on the street, offering food or assistance. They chose a Christian saint for their name to prevent police “hassling” workers. Then secured their first hostel – a former Marmite factory in Vauxhall.
Q 3) There will be an estimated 76% increase in homelessness in the next decade, how are you planning to combat this?
It’s not inevitable and reversing the rise in rough sleeping is an urgent national priority. We plan to work with the government to provide meaningful support for people who find their only option to call the streets their home.
By 2021 we aim to reverse the rise in rough sleeping in the country and to halve the number of people who sleep rough in areas by:
- Providing support to clients to prevent or respond to homelessness enabling recovery.
- Building relationships with communities and the public to increase empathy for people experiencing it.
- Combining the voices of our clients with evidence, and knowledge about what works, to advocate for policy changes.
Q 4) What are the challenges for London to better address homelessness?
Rough sleeping in London hasn’t risen as sharply as other areas, however, quarter of all in England are in London. 8,108 people were seen sleeping rough by outreach workers across London in 2016-17.
Rough sleeping is the most severe form of homelessness, harmful and dangerous, causing sufferers physical and psychological harm. The average age of death someone sleeping rough is 47 - unacceptable.
During the last Mayoral election, St Mungo’s joined with other charities to focus on- preventing homelessness, better information and advice about where to get help and a more secure private rented sector.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has set up the ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce consisting of experts putting in place new measures to prevent people sleeping rough.
Anyone in London who wants to help rough sleepers can, by referring them via the StreetLink website or app.
Londoners can also support rough sleepers by donating to the London Homeless Charities Group. The group offers Londoners an easily accessible single donation point, with all funds going equally to 18 charities, including St Mungo’s, providing support for people sleeping rough.
Q 5) What are the solutions? It is prevention through causes?
We know that it takes more than a roof over someone’s head to end homelessness. People experiencing it often face many issues, commonly isolation, mental health problems, and drug or alcohol use. Working with people to understand goals, then helping them to achieve those is the best way to assist.
Q 6) What are the best ways for the public to get involved?
There are a number of ways to get involved:
1. If you are concerned about someone, get in touch with StreetLink, the national rough sleeper referral service, via their website.
2. Donate to help affected people rebuild their lives.
3. Join as a campaigner to demand policy change to help end homelessness.
4. Volunteer and make an enormous difference to people we work with and the services we provide.
Q 7) What are your main initiatives for 2018 and how are you going to achieve them?
Woolly Hat Day – we’re calling on everyone around the country to put our heads together to end homelessness on 26 January 2018. Wear a woolly hat, take a selfie, share on social media and donate to help people who are homeless. To find out more, Will Potter: William.firstname.lastname@example.org