Four projects from across London have been named as winners of the prestigious London Homelessness Awards for 2023. They will share cash prizes totalling £60,000.
The prize winners are (in alphabetical order):
- Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid Safe Beds Scheme
- Enfield Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub
- St Mungos Roma Rough Sleeping team
- SLAM START Homeless Outreach Services
Two further projects were particularly commended as making a special contribution to helping combat homelessness in London.
- Change Please: Driving for Change
Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid
For those made homeless by domestic abuse, the path to stable accommodation is not easy, and often depends on the inconsistent response of local housing teams. Sadly, only a very small proportion of refuges (around 4%) are able to accept families with no access to public funds.
Launched in 2013, Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid’s Safe Beds Scheme allows Local Authorities to place families quickly in refuge, including those with no recourse to public funds. This enables the charity to help women in distress who do not qualify for the normal support mechanisms put in place for victims of domestic abuse.
BCWA’s Safe beds provide temporary, safe accommodation for women and children who would otherwise be placed in expensive, unsuitable, and unsafe B&B accommodation which can be re-traumatising for the victim/survivor. BCWA have three independent refuges which can offer safe beds to women with children, and they offer specialist support for ethnically diverse and migrant women.
Through this project, BCWA is supporting some of the most marginalized women across the country at a much more cost-effective rate where support is provided by peers and specialist workers aimed at breaking the cycle of abuse and homelessness.
London Borough of Enfield
The Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub is a 12-bed rapid assessment and resettlement service that provides housing and intensive 24/7 support to people experiencing rough sleeping. Situated in Edmonton, the hub enables direct access to safe off the street accommodation to outreach workers, providing both rapid assessment of need and rehousing. The Hub provides a base for partner agencies to provide a wide range of specialist support to meet the needs of rough sleepers such as health care, drug and alcohol support, and VSOs.
The Hub is very effective at working with people experiencing rough sleeping to exit street homelessness, preventing them from returning to the streets and integrating them into the community. Service users and partner agencies report that the Hub is special because of the compassionate, client focused, outcomes focused values and can do culture. The Hub was created in-house from scratch; some staff have lived experience, and all staff share the core values.
The Hub team work together with partner agencies to ensure that people who access our service are assessed rapidly, and a plan developed to meet any support needs and find a settled home. The Hub continues to provide support to rough sleepers long after they have moved out, ensuring they sustain their settled home, and integrate into the community.
SLAM START Homeless Outreach Services
START is a tri-borough multidisciplinary statutory service for homeless clients rough sleeping or in hostels. They provide mental health and dual diagnosis outreach delivered in a way that prioritises relational care and engagement, working with clients across transitions, from street to housing to recovery, and offering treatment and interventions across psychiatry, psychology, nursing, social work, occupational therapy and peer support. The team also work to support third sector partners, providing education, advocacy, and guidance with complex cases.
START provide integrated statutory care to clients who are homeless and seen as hard to engage. As START is multi-disciplinary the service blends professional expertise with an outreach and trauma informed approach, and so can successfully advocate for the right care and treatment but also provide many of those interventions.
Staff have small caseloads and can provide intensive support across all the areas of need, often helping with cleaning, shopping, benefits, attending appointments and emotional support. It is not unusual to find the team building furniture, transporting baggage to a new flat, helping call the DWP and popping over with a food parcel or taking someone for coffee. In this way, clients can access the practical hands-on care typified by the third sector, with the specialist, professional advocacy, and treatment of statutory services.
St Mungos Roma Rough Sleeping Team
The St Mungos Roma Rough Sleeping team is a Pan London service funded by the GLA through the Rough Sleeper initiative with the aim of challenging discrimination and demonstrating it is possible to deliver sustainable homelessness interventions for people from the Roma community.
It has three Roma mediators and a Roma coordinator and Service Manager who provide culturally competent casework management and promote equal access to support. The service is delivered in partnership with The Passage, which provides immigration advice and employment support that meets the specific needs of Roma clients.
The team work jointly with outreach teams to help clients build trust with local services. They have helped over 200 individuals access the specialist support through culturally aware drop-in sessions that provide immigration advice and access to healthcare. The team’s methodology around assessment and move on planning has been particularly successful in supporting their clients to access private rented sector accommodation.
The service also promotes wider system change by delivering training for professionals on the racism and discrimination Roma individuals face as well as Roma history, culture and social conditions in their home country developing practical tools and resources for professionals e.g. supporting Roma clients during SWEP offering support to professionals on meeting the needs of Roma people who are rough sleeping through a pan London advice line
Beam is a platform supporting homeless people and refugees into stable jobs and homes. Through their unique crowdfunding platform, they help disadvantaged communities raise funding for job training, work tools, rental deposits, and other ﬁnancial costs related to ﬁnding a job or home.
Donations come from members of the public, who get updates on the people they support and can leave messages of encouragement. Each beneﬁciary also gets a dedicated Beam caseworker to support them on their journey into a stable job or home, and helps with CV writing, interview skills, online job applications, and tenancy training.
Beam takes an innovative approach to tackling homelessness, by:
- Bringing in new capital to remove homeless people’s ﬁnancial barriers, targeting the ﬁnancial barriers that stop people getting into work and housing.
- Giving homeless people access to a supportive community who send messages of encouragement and provide professional mentorship.
- Adapting to the strengths and needs of the person and recognising that each person requires a tailored approach.
- Designing tech tools exclusively for homeless people with each beneﬁciary getting a personalised “Beam Hub” to connect with others in a similar position.
- Working with local councils and central government departments to provide homeless residents with jobs, homes and skills within a single service.
Change Please: Driving for Change
Driving for Change is a ground-breaking initiative, bringing together the best of the public, voluntary and commercial sectors. Launched in November 2021 with the support of the Mayor of London, there are now three state-of-the-art refurbished buses delivering vital services to London’s Rough Sleeping and Homeless Communities, including: NHS nurse consultations, oral hygiene support and care, haircuts, digital and financial literacy training, employment support, shower facilities, therapy assessments, laundry services and essential everyday items.
Driving for Change delivers life-changing services around three key areas:
- Immediate needs: Support with haircuts, showers, clothing, advice, and referral to potentially life-saving key services.
- Access to medical, dentistry and other wellbeing support: The buses have a private and confidential room for guests to have a full health check with the nurse. Our dental room is the most popular service on the bus.
- Development and learning needs: We deliver employability, referral to Change Please Foundation’s employment project and with HSBC and MasterCard have delivered digital skills training and support with opening bank accounts through HSBC’s No Fixed Abode project.
Since the beginning of 2023 the team have worked with 680 guests on the buses and are expecting to see over 1,000 guests this calendar year on the buses. They will have their third bus in circulation by July 2023.