One year on: Network Rail and housing charity Shelter mark one year anniversary since outreach services launched to tackle homelessness in and around London Charing Cross and London Victoria stations

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Network Rail’s London Charing Cross and London Victoria stations are continuing to team up with housing and homelessness charity Shelter to help people sleeping rough.

Following the success of a rough sleeping pilot service over the past year, Network Rail and Shelter have extended their partnership until 31 March 2024.

The teams will continue the joined-up approach working alongside local charities, The Passage at London Victoria station, and The Connection at St Martin’s at London Charing Cross station.

In its first year, the partnership has referred around 73 people experiencing homelessness and this year aim to help even more.

Network Rail station staff work alongside Shelter colleagues to connect and refer people they encounter sleeping rough with expert services to provide them with tailored help and support, including access to key services such as registering with a GP, mental health support, setting up a bank account or helping to find suitable accommodation.

Each person that uses the service gets allocated a key worker who will support them in their journey to move away from sleeping rough.

Many people have been living on the streets for a long time and the interventions by outreach colleagues in the stations continue to be a first step in the process to securing permanent, sustainable accommodation and life-changing support.

In the below video, Paul Grieve, an outreach worker from Connection at St Martin’s charity explains what a typical day looks like:

Helping those in most need – a case study of John

Earlier this year, The Passage Community Intervention Team (CIT) met John* who was sleeping rough on the London Victoria Station concourse.

John, said: “I’d lost both my job and accommodation a week before and was now experiencing street homelessness in the area.

“I’d travelled to London Victoria to find work and was rough sleeping near the station, whilst looking for secure employment. I was very distressed and was using the station’s facilities and indoor seating space to shield me from the cold and wet weather when the community intervention team met me.

“I was walked to the Passage Resource Centre on the same day, where I was assessed by the team and given access to primary services, including showers, a hot meal and an appointment with the GP. I had been sleeping rough since I’d lost my accommodation and very much welcomed the support which was provided.

“The Passage saved my life, and I would like to thank members of the team from the partnership and The Passage’s Community Services.”

The support that John received through this partnership helped him move away from sleeping rough. John is now working in retail and enjoying his new job and has maintained his place in the accommodation the partnership helped him secure.

In support of World Homeless Day 2023 (10 October), Shelter will be displaying a range of joint branded retail pop-up shops in the below Network Rail stations where passengers will be able to make donations by purchasing a range of clothes direct from Shelter boutiques:

  • 3, 4 & 5 October at London Waterloo station
  • 10, 11 & 12 October at London Bridge station
  • 17, 18 & 19 October at London Victoria station

Kathleen O’Malley, Network Rail’s social value manager, said: “The extension of this partnership with Shelter is fantastic news. It’s amazing to see the work that our station colleagues have been getting involved with and the real difference it makes to people’s lives.

“We’re really pleased to be continuing to work collaboratively with Shelter, The Passage, and Connection at St Martin’s to extend the outreach service and make sure that we can help as many people as possible who may be sleeping rough in and around stations.

“It’s really important that we continue empowering our frontline colleagues to have conversations with and signpost people sleeping rough to support their route out of homelessness.”

Steve Matthews, head of national contracts at Shelter, said: “The pilots in London show us what we can do when we all come together. The extension of the partnership is great news and we’re so pleased to be able to continue this work with partners in the sector, to make sure no-one faces homelessness alone.”

Alanah Cornelius, engagement and outreach manager at The Passage, said: “Through this partnership, our Community Intervention Team has been able to reach and support more individuals who are experiencing homelessness and are met in and around Victoria station.

“We’re extremely pleased that this collaborative work can continue, ensuring that support is offered to all those in need. Ultimately, this collaboration will help us to work towards our vision of a society where everyone has a place to call home.”

Pam Orchard, chief executive of The Connection at St Martin’s, commented: “Our outreach team works tirelessly to support hundreds of people sleeping rough each year. We’re really pleased to continue working with Network Rail and Shelter to increase the number of people we’re able to reach.”

Image credit: Network Rail

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