Coronavirus:Helping rough sleepers off the streets

by St Mungo's
Coronavirus:Helping rough sleepers off the streets

Thank you for supporting St Mungo’s vital work during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are proud of all we have achieved during a very challenging time thanks to your support, and are pleased to share this with you.

St Mungo’s work during Covid-19

During the Coronavirus pandemic, St Mungo’s has been part of the national effort to help thousands of people off the streets and into hotels to keep them safe. There is no doubt that the ‘Everyone In’ initiative saved the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Alongside our local authority partners, and with the support of all of you, our staff have worked tirelessly to support as many people as possible off the streets, into emergency accommodation, and then into a more permanent home. Since March last year we are proud that we have:

  • Managed 30 emergency hotels across the South of England
  • Helped over 4,000 people who were rough sleeping or in shelters to isolate safely in emergency accommodation
  • Provided over 250,000 meals to our vulnerable clients shielding during lockdown
  • Supported over 2,000 people to make positive moves into longer-term housing

At the beginning of 2020, I was sleeping in St James’s Park, I’d been living there for four years. (Through St Mungo’s), I found myself with a nice private room, my own shower and was being provided with three meals a day. I had been so thin when I first arrived at the hotel but soon enough, I started to gain weight again – it was brilliant.” – St Mungo’s client

St Mungo’s future priorities

In the past year, we’ve made history. By working together, we’ve reduced rough sleeping in England by 37%. This proves that we can end rough sleeping in the UK. However, the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic is forecast to cause a catastrophic rise in the number of people becoming homeless.

St Mungo’s have laid out our strategic plan for the next five years. We are looking to build upon the successes of the past year, whilst knowing there are many challenges ahead.

We believe that rough sleeping can be ended by 2026. But we cannot achieve this alone, we need your support. In the areas St Mungo’s works we aim to reduce the number of people who end up on the streets for the first time, and the number who return.

Thank you for supporting our mission to end homelessness and rebuild lives.

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Firstly a big thank you as always for your continued support of our work. It is now a year on from the start of lockdown and the Government’s "Everyone In" initiative. It has been an extraordinary year and we have learnt a lot.

The pandemic has put a spotlight on the dangers of sleeping rough. It has also exposed and exacerbated the precarious housing and financial situations of many people in England. However, in the face of an incredibly challenging year, we have proved that when we work together we can end rough sleeping.

The “Everyone In” initiative launched on 26 March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic was an incredible success and shows that with the will, the coordination and the funding, ending rough sleeping is possible.

During the pandemic, St Mungo’s have supported more than 4,000 people and managed a total of 30 emergency accommodation hotels. We are proud to have contributed to the success of the Everyone In initiative in the places where we work. Alongside our local authority partners, our staff have worked tirelessly to support as many people as possible off the streets, into emergency accommodation, and then into a more permanent home. The work of the last year has saved hundreds, and changed thousands, of people’s lives. During this period we have helped 1,478 people move in to longer-term housing.

Partnership working between homelessness service providers, health professionals, local and national Government saw progress on an unprecedented scale. The latest Government statistics demonstrate this impact and estimate that more than 37,000 people have been helped to move away from the streets.

“Having my own room in the hotel gave me space to think about what I wanted to do next. I knew I wasn’t alone and I didn’t feel stuck anymore.” - St Mungo's hotel client

Although the last year has seen some very positive action, we now need to build on that success and we know we will be facing new challenges in the year ahead. The social impacts of the pandemic have already included rising unemployment, negative impacts on mental and physical health and increased domestic violence. We also anticipate an increase in evictions, particularly no fault evictions. These issue will lead to more people facing homelessness and we will be here to support those who find themselves dealing with this terrible situation.  

Thank you again for you on-going support of our work.

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This has been an unprecedented time for all of us. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the vulnerable people we work with have faced more uncertainty than ever. Your support has not only allowed us to continue to provide our vital services but has also helped us to adapt and develop new ways of working to make sure we can continue to support people on their journey away from the streets.

As one of the UK's leading homelessness charities, we believe that people can and do recover from the issues that cause homelessness. We work to prevent homelessness and support people at every step of their recovery.

Since March we have been working closley with our partners such as  local authorities, housing associations and other homelessness charities to help people who are sleeping rough and in hostels to self-isolate and protect themselves from Coronavirus. We have played a key role in helping to deliver the Everyone In Initiative. At a difficult time, we have continued to deliver over 90% of our frontline operations through adapting our services, moving to hotels and supporting clients remotely over the phone and online.

During the pandemic, St Mungo's staff have:

  • Managed 27 hotels across the south and south west to make sure people could isolate safely and not be at risk
  • Helped over 3,000 people who were rough sleeping or in shelters to isolate safely in emergency accomodation
  • Provided over 140,000 meals to our vulnerable clients shielding during lockdown
  • Supported 1,072 people to make positive moves into longer-term housing

This has been a tough time but we know that our services and support have continued to have a positive impact on the lives of our clients.

“Since I’ve been in lockdown, I’ve had great support from St Mungo’s. Being inside, away from the streets, I feel at ease with myself and everything that’s going on. Once this is all done, I want to find a flat for me and my partner and head back to work.”

St Mungo’s client 

“For the first time in three and half years I feel safe again. No matter how good you get at living on the street, safety never really comes into it. So for me, it’s a very positive feeling.”

St Mungo’s client,


Thank you again for your support

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We are extremely grateful to everyone that has supported our work through GlobalGiving. Your commitment across the last four months to help us respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, and protect people experiencing homelessness has been life-changing.

Around 4,700 people sleep on the streets of England on any one night. Many of those we work with have health conditions, including respiratory problems, relating to time spent sleeping on the streets which put them at especially high risk from Covid-19. They have no home to self-isolate in and many of the mental and physical health services they rely on are closed. The longer this crisis continues, the more people will need our help; with businesses closed, people are losing their livelihoods and accommodation. This coupled with a drastic increase in domestic abuse incidents means that we are seeing distressing numbers of people continuing to turn to the streets. This pandemic has been devastating to people experiencing homelessness, but thanks to your support we are responding.

 Emergency outreach for those at high risk

We are thankful that our staff have been classed as essential workers during this crisis, allowing them to continue their crucial work of focusing on the safety and welfare of people who are rough sleeping or in emergency or temporary housing. Our hostels and supported housing have remained open during restrictions, introducing extra measures to enable social distancing and protect residents.

The most pressing and immediate need has been helping those on the streets and in emergency hubs with communal sleeping spaces to be able to access safe accommodation where they can self-isolate. St Mungo’s outreach teams and our charity partners have helped people into block booked hotels across the south of England, including:

  • Over 1,000 people in London
  • 280 people in Bristol
  • Over 100 people in Brighton
  • 88 people in Reading
  • 121 people in Oxford
  • 100 people in Bournemouth

Once safely inside, your generosity has allowed us to stay with people beyond this point. During the crisis we have provided healthy meal deliveries to those who need them, with over 200,000 meals delivered in total. To protect all those we work with across the South of England and our staff, your support has also helped provide desperately needed PPE including gloves, masks and aprons.

 “Everyone is scared; their whole world is changing in ways they don’t totally understand. But there have been some brilliant successes: people who have been out on the streets for more than 20 years are finally taking up our offers of help – they’ve understood that we are there in their times of need.”

- Kath Sims, Head of Outreach

 Ensuring people do not have to return to the streets

Among those in hotels there are people who have spent years homeless and declining help previously. This is an almost unprecedented chance to work together with them to address issues related to their homelessness including mental and physical health, and a lack of skills and employment opportunities.

To this end, we have worked hard to develop our Recovery College, in to a remote service so that people can continue to get the help they need to build skills and find employment, both in hotels and their next-step accommodation. Sessions and activities are available for life skills, such as home management and budgeting, digital inclusion, arts and music, health and wellbeing, maths and literacy, and English for speakers of other languages (40% of those in hotels are EEA nationals so ESOL needs are common). We operate through individual and group activity sessions over Google Hangouts, phone and a private YouTube channel. We translate education materials and use Language Line translation services. Employment Specialists build on this with help for: career guidance, job searching, CV preparation, interview skills, coping strategies and confidence building.

Next Steps

  • The Remote Recovery College will continue to expand, adding more courses and rolling them out to be available to everyone who is being supported by St Mungo’s.
  • As the nation begins to re-open, we will work to transition those we are supporting away from emergency provision and towards more sustainable and long term support. We will begin to wind down our food deliveries as part of this process.
  • Hotels are preparing to return to normal business and government funding for hotel stays will be coming to a close. We are exploring alternative emergency accommodation options for those people who do not yet have somewhere safe to move on to —we must avoid people being forced back onto the streets at all costs.

 Your support in action: Aries’ story 

Aries is a former nurse who is staying one of the hotels we are supporting. Forced to give up work because of a degenerative spine condition, she had moved in with relatives who abused her so much she tried to kill herself. After two months in a psychiatric hospital, she ended up on the streets, sleeping two nights in a hospital A&E then one on night buses until she was directed to Hackney winter night shelter.

“I was really worried about the coronavirus. As a diabetic and asthmatic I’m vulnerable and in the hostel it was all shared facilities.”

She was delighted when she was moved to the hotel and given a phone on which counsellors from St Mungo’s speak to her every day.

“To be honest it’s a real godsend, I spend the day watching news and doing cross-stitch — I’ve done 18 pieces since I got here including one saying ‘stay at home’, and one for a fellow resident, Emma, whose birthday was on Friday.”

“It’s giving me a chance to think about my future, I’m hoping to get my life back together and do something useful. I’d like to go back to school and become a social worker.”

Working together, we are helping people like Aries to stay safe, recover from homelessness and rebuild their lives, now when they need us most.

Thank you.

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Organization Information

St Mungo's

Location: London - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @StMungos
Project Leader:
Jay Hunt
London, London United Kingdom

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