The Outside Project
The Outside Project – a grassroots LGBTQI community organisation – received funding last year from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to establish the UK’s first LGBTQI homeless shelter and community centre in a disused fire station in Islington, North London, housing 10 people. They can get housing and employment support, sexual health care and co-working spaces, and take part in cultural and arts activities on site. The events programme includes recovery groups and support sessions for black members of the community, as well as workshops in everything from screenprinting to taekwondo. Almost a quarter of the nation’s young rough-sleeping population identify as LGBTQI, according to akt (formerly Albert Kennedy Trust) figures.
No Evictions Glasgow
In November, a court ruled that housing provider Serco’s lock-change evictions of asylum seekers whose bids were refused in Glasgow were lawful. This left around 300 people at risk of being evicted without a court order, despite having no right to work nor any entitlement to homeless assistance. But it was after the process was delayed by more than a year thanks to the efforts of the No Evictions campaign, formed by groups including tenants’ union Living Rent and asylum seekers’ organisation the Unity Centre, in channelling the fury of locals at the treatment of their neighbours by a faceless landlord. No Evictions has pushed communities to organise protests and vigils while supporting the refugees and asylum seekers whose homes were at risk. The campaigners aren’t slowing down as concerns grow that Serco could evict 30 people per week this winter – and they have called for mass protest and civil disobedience until these homes are protected.
Museum of Homelessness
Last year the Museum of Homelessness took over from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism as custodian of the groundbreaking Dying Homeless Project, which counts the number of homeless deaths on UK streets, in hostels or in temporary accommodation. This pushed the Office for National Statistics to conduct their own official count, acknowledging the deaths of vulnerable homeless people for the first time. In turn this will boost the valuable work already done by the social justice museum – set up and run by people with experience of homelessness – preserving and sharing stories, art and culture. The organisation also provides bursaries, mentoring and training.
Crystal Palace CommunityLand Trust
Community spirit is alive and kicking in the South London town of Croydon, where a group of residents are tackling the area’s housing crisis while respecting the environment. The locals – who pooled their skills in architecture, transport and sustainability – are gearing up to build high-quality, low-carbon affordable homes in Upper Norwood after winning a competition run by Croydon Council. Now they say their top priority is meeting the needs of people in temporary accommodation, single parents, families with children, young people and domestic abuse survivors, with a preference for social rent over other models. The group, which runs a weekly food market and community gardens to reduce its carbon footprint, will build a mix of homes spanning London affordable rent, London Living Rent and an equivalent to London Shared Ownership, having spoken to the wider community so that everybody feels involved in the proposed changes to the area.
Inspired by an encounter with a Big Issue vendor and his dog in London, vets Jade Statt and Sam Joseph teamed up in 2016 to get high-quality healthcare to the pets on the capital’s streets. StreetVet has now recruited more than 60 volunteers and ensured that more than 600 street dogs, cats and rabbits are vaccinated, microchipped, prescribed pain relief or protected from infections. We often hear from our vendors that their animal companions can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on rebuilding their lives, but veterinary care can be difficult to access and impossible to afford for people living on the street or with no steady income. The work StreetVet does is key to improving the lives of homeless people and their four-legged friends.
The Magpie Project
A safe place to play, a hot meal, somewhere to relax and make friends – they’re things no parent and child should struggle for, but in London’s Newham (previously on record as having the highest homelessness rate in England) they are. The Magpie Project is trying to plug that gap for mothers and children under five in temporary accommodation in the borough. The charity provides all of this, plus advice on housing, debt, employment and healthcare, and signposting to foodbanks and children’s centres. The Magpie Project started in 2017 as a group of around a dozen people worried about the quality of life for mothers and their children. The organisation targets under-fives in insecure housing in particular because there is little data on them – many of their parents don’t engage with services because they hope their situation will be temporary, or sometimes out of fear and shame.