Established by a group of homeless people in 1977, SHP was one of the most innovative and successful of the wave of new homelessness agencies that sprung up in London in the late 1970s. The majority of those agencies responded to the acute housing needs of single people who were effectively excluded from homeless persons' legislation.
A number of factors led to a surge of activity in this 'single homeless' field:
- The number of large and extremely poor standard hostels that were for single homeless people, all of which needed closing down and replacing with small-scale modern provision
- The number of single homeless people sleeping rough or inadequately housed
- The problems of a range of institutional provision from psychiatric hospitals to prisons
One of the key driving forces behind the early charity was a person who had experienced long-term homelessness, including living in most of the London hostels. He became SHP’s first worker and it was his emphasis on the rights of single homeless people and their need for respect and dignity that shaped our early thinking and the range of services that we developed.