Liz Rutherfoord, Chief Executive 

Today marks the anniversary of Everyone In, a Government funded scheme to offer temporary accommodation to all rough sleepers to keep them safe from Covid-19. Whilst the pandemic has presented us with the biggest public health challenge of our generation and caused enormous difficulties in so many ways, it has also given us opportunity. The full scale of rough sleeping in England has been exposed, and Everyone In has shown that, given the will and resources, rough sleeping can be ended.    

 This past year, Single Homeless Project has helped more Londoners than ever before whether by supporting people to hold on to accommodation and ensuring they had the essentials to survive the lockdown, providing outreach support and running hotels for rough sleepers, and moving more people than ever into longer-term accommodation.  

 The future of Government funding for tackling homelessness is uncertainWhat we do know though is that our experiences of the past year have shown that there are key contributors to ending street homelessness in London.  

1. Everyone on the streets gets the support they need in the way that they need it 

Many of those who have been on and off the streets for years have needs which services have failed to meet. Our Navigator Services reach out to rough sleepers with multiple and complex needs, building the trust needed for people to move inside after so long, with support that is tailored to their needs.  

The economic fallout of the pandemic has seen a new generation of rough sleepers. Our New to the Streets service has helped those who have recently become homeless, providing short term accommodation and rapid routes to more permanent housing. 

A high proportion of London’s rough sleepers have no recourse to public funds, so are unable to pay for housing. Everyone In doesn’t discriminate between rough sleepers so we and others had the opportunity to offer accommodation, immigration advice and support with employment to ensure at least some of this group will does not return to the streets

2. Providing healthcare onsite improves longer-term outcomes 

As a charity, we work with those with the most complex needs, people who have often been rejected by other services. We know that many have long-term untreated health conditions, and our experience showed that these can be addressed with the right approachWe partnered with health services to provide 107 clients in Camden’s Britannia Hotel with a multi-disciplinary team from GPs, nurses, dentists and pharmacists to psychologists, substance treatment specialists and memory clinics. We all worked together to help residents with a complex range of needs and helped every single resident to move into safe, secure accommodation in time for Christmas.  

It was exciting, ground-breaking, and life-changing for our clients and a revelation for us. Once again, it only takes the right resources in the right place, to make a lasting difference to people’s lives. 

3. Create the right climate in the private rented sector 

We helped a record 800 people move into their own private rented accommodation last year. In a city where social housing is in scarce supply, this is the main housing option for homeless people. By funding rent deposits, tackling prejudice about people on benefitsand working collaboratively with good landlords has ensured our clients have experienced stable accommodation over the long term.  

4. Deliver preventative services that can quickly address the needs of homeless young people  

We have seen a sharp increase in the number of under 25’s accessing our servicesThey have been particularly impacted by the pandemic having lost employment and unstable housing. Early intervention that addresses housing and employment is required to prevent young people from becoming the rough sleepers of the future.  

Our hope is that these changes will survive in the long term and become the ‘new normal’ for homeless services. 

The conditions that the pandemic and Everyone In created have led to a fundamental change in mindset - a switch from needing to fit fixed criteria, tick boxes and navigate systems that appeared to have been designed to exclude, to collaborative working and a ‘how can we make this work?’ attitude. Our hope is that these changes will survive in the long term and become the ‘new normal’ for homeless services.