Another year has flown by – a year in which the headlines were dominated by the dramatic twists and turns of the countdown to Brexit. Whatever the final outcome for the UK is, it’s clear that the wider political and economic climate has continued to make life more difficult and precarious for vulnerable people.

In the last month, two reports by Shelter and Crisis have underlined this in the starkest terms. Rough sleeping has rocketed by 120 per cent in five years, with almost a thousand people now sleeping on the streets of the capital on any one night and a staggering one in 52 Londoners now homeless.

As austerity continues to impact on support services in areas such as mental health, for many clients SHP is one of the only organisations they can turn to that will fight their corner. Meanwhile the complexity of client need is increasing.

Staff have responded to these challenges with resilience and resourcefulness. As our Staff Awards in March amply demonstrated, each day across our services, SHP staff put our values into practice, going the extra mile for clients and contributing to our ongoing reputation for high quality and client-focused work.

Throughout 2018, despite a tough operating environment, we continued to expand and diversify those services.
We became a truly Pan-London charity for the first time, thanks to an exciting new partnership with the National Probation Service (NPS) and MCTnovo which has allowed us to support up to 390 more people leaving prison.

We continued to extend our complex needs work, including taking over delivery at King George’s Hostel in Westminster, where we provide 68 bed spaces for entrenched rough sleepers taking the first steps out of homelessness. We were also able to significantly increase our specialist mental health accommodation-based services in Islington, while our Westminster Mental Health Floating Support service was re-commissioned for a further three years as a generic community support service.

Our work with refugees went from strength to strength in a year which saw us welcome Lord Dubbs and Yvette Cooper to Bondway to celebrate having resettled 28 families in Lambeth, the most in any borough in London. And only this week we threw a Christmas party for the service that was attended by 200 people, with refugee children receiving gifts from a corporate partner.

Over Christmas and New Year we’re opening two winter shelters for rough sleepers in Redbridge and in Islington and Camden, both of which will operate until Spring 2019. As well as offering them respite from the extreme weather, we’ll be able to explore longer term options for people who we may otherwise have been unable to reach.

Our reputation as a leader in Housing First was further cemented with a new service in Newham which went live in April, followed in October by the launch of a move-on service. Meanwhile in Redbridge, the Housing First team and outreach services also expanded, allowing them to work with a much greater range of clients.

It was also a significant year for our Opportunities Programme, as we began to roll out delivery of a new-look programme encompassing sport and health, youth music, green ‘microfarms’ and arts and wellbeing. This included the launch of the Sound House Project, which brings young artists together with professional musicians and producers to create original music and media.

More than 270 staff attended our Staff Conference in March, which was themed around our 40th Anniversary. It included a Staff Awards ceremony which saw 74 staff nominating a colleague and 24 staff receiving recognition onstage on the day, with awards that reflected our ethos and values. This was part of our wider work to promote a culture of reward and recognition at SHP. We work with Investors in People (IIP) to assess our performance, and this year SHP was successfully re-accredited as an IIP employer until 2020.

Our ability to diversify our funding has been transformed since the arrival of our Fundraising team, which in the 18 months since they joined us have raised more than £703,000 in grants. Our pool of corporate partners now stands at 32, and this year they’re once again providing 600 gifts to ensure every client in our hostels gets a present this Christmas. And for the first time ever we’re fundraising face to face with the public, with station collections in 20 central London locations across nine days.

Finally, while stats can only tell part of the story, it’s also worth reflecting on what we’ve achieved in numbers. In the past year we:

  •  Worked with 6,875 people across all London boroughs
  • Gave 1,033 people a safe place to live and 1-1 support in our adult and young people’s accommodation services
  • Provided homelessness prevention support for 4,060 people and their families across our floating support services
  • Provided targeted interventions and support for 1,782 people in our brief intervention services
  • Found homes for 445 people
  • Helped a further 158 people with a move into temporary and supported accommodation
  • Helped 215 people to find work, 90 people into volunteering opportunities and 290 people into education
  • Helped 1,020 people to manage their finances better and reduce their debt to a manageable level
  • Helped 750 people make lifestyle improvements and better manage existing physical and mental health issues
  • Engaged 218 people to nurture their personal wellbeing and development through our Opportunities Programme

That’s an impressive set of outcomes to which every one of you has contributed, whether directly or indirectly, and of which we can all be proud. So a big thank you to everyone for your hard work and best wishes for 2019.

Liz Rutherfoord