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Chestertons News 25 October 2019

Celebrating one year of First Response

The Chestertons funded First Response programme has helped an additional 248 people sleeping rough to find shelter or engage with homeless charity St Mungo’s’ services, in its first year of operation.

Historically, the homeless charity’s local Outreach Teams spent a large proportion of their time searching for people sleeping rough, leaving less time to offer specialist support around housing, health and employment.

However, through the special funding of Chestertons, St Mungo’s were able to employ a new ‘Volunteer Coordinator’ to oversee the recruitment and training of over 100 new volunteers to the joint initiative. These volunteers go out alongside Outreach staff to follow up referrals and locate vulnerable people who need help, thus saving that time for the Outreach Teams.

Celebrating its first year, St Mungo’s reported that the First Response programme has helped increase the number of people sleeping rough that the teams can support.

• Over 100 new First Response volunteers were recruited by the St Mungo’s Volunteer Coordinator

• These volunteers completed 2,135 hours of volunteering across 353 shifts

• The ‘First Response’ volunteers referred 1,352 people sleeping rough, that were then checked by the Outreach teams

• 248 people were helped to find shelter or engage with St Mungo’s’ services

• The programme now operates in five London boroughs: City of London, Islington, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster

Salah Mussa, Chairman of Chestertons, said: “Having worked with St Mungo’s as our nominated charity for a few years, we were confident that with our funding, they could make this new initiative work. One year after launching, First Response is without doubt making a real difference to some of the most vulnerable people sleeping rough in the capital and we’re proud to continue supporting this innovative programme as it moves into its second year.”

Petra Salva, St Mungo’s Director of Rough Sleeper, Offender and Migrant Services, added: “Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous and our teams are out day and night meeting people, building trust and finding lasting routes off the streets. We knew that too much of our Outreach workers’ time on shift was being spent searching for referrals. This meant hours lost, going from one corner of the borough to the other, taking us away from our vital work supporting those sleeping rough. First Response has been a great success in its first year and was a simple solution to a fundamental problem. We look forward to continuing this partnership with Chestertons and continuing to help people sleeping rough.”

If you would like to get involved and help us in ending homelessness, get in touch here to find out what volunteering opportunities are available.