After 20 years as a Trustee of SHP and 16 years as Chair of the Board, Jonathan Senker is passing the baton on to our new Chair, Jon Rosser. Here, Jonathan looks back on the changes he has seen and forward to the future.

Twenty years ago I joined SHP, which at the time was supporting 350 people who were single and homeless. It has been my huge privilege to play a part in SHP’s journey to now enabling 8,000 people every year who face homelessness or social exclusion to transform their lives.  During this time, SHP has grown from 60 colleagues to over 500.

Looking back, I appreciate how much has changed and am also struck by how much has stood the test of time. In 1975 SHP began as a collective of homeless people and their allies, who saw that if others would not take the initiative, they had better do so themselves.  Forty four years later, our values still emphasise the importance of self-determination and the fact that people hold the key to their own solutions.

It’s not been a straightforward journey and not without challenges. SHP risked bankruptcy soon after I joined it (unconnected honestly!) and a fire destroyed our HQ a year later (I repeat…). Over the years, new patterns of funding, economic change, legislation and drug availability have all impacted. We have responded positively to each.

I came on board because I could see the integrity and passion that characterised SHP. I was inspired by the life-changing nature of its services. These strengths remain at the heart of SHP. All the while we have grown in confidence so that we have been able to enable people with increasingly complex need to turn their lives around. As a result, we have ourselves been transformed, from providing accommodation with some assistance, to becoming a highly respected, thoroughly professional and innovative organisation that supports people to take control over their lives.

SHP is in good shape, but you don’t need me to point out that all is far from rosy in our country, including in London. Homelessness and rough sleeping  are on the increase and social exclusion continues to blight people’s lives. I’d love for these to no longer be issues, but until then, I am so pleased that SHP is here. SHP’s passion and skill will equip it to play an even stronger role. I am delighted to hand the Chair to Jon Rosser, who I know embodies our commitment to SHP’s development.

I cannot leave without expressing my enormous appreciation to our Chief Executive Liz Rutherfoord and her team, whose conviction and integrity drive SHP; to my fellow board members who give their extensive expertise freely; and to the people who use SHP’s services, for the insight and inspiration which you provide as you transform your lives. Finally, and mainly, I want to pass on my unending respect, appreciation and thanks to every staff member and volunteer at SHP. You are real stars and through you I know that SHP will keep true to its heart and values while it rises to the challenges of the future.