Joined the campaign: Early 2016
Who’s involved? The campaign is led by the Westminster Homeless Action Together (WHAT) group which includes St Mungo’s, The Passage, The Connection at St Martins, Groundswell, and West London Mission. It is supported by the City of Westminster.
What has happened so far? Westminster is in the heart of London and has historically always had the highest number of people sleeping on the streets in the UK. In 2018 the Westminster local authority ‘point in time’ count found 306 people on the street on one given night, which has risen from 260 in 2015. The CHAIN homelessness database – which records people found homeless throughout the year – counted 2,165 in 2017/18, which is a reduction of 405 from its peak in 2014/15.
Westminster held their Connections Week in July 2016. More than 300 volunteers, speaking 36 languages, each gave a minimum of ten hours to the project. More detailed results can be found here and the full report can be downloaded here.
WHAT continues to be committed to increasing joint working so that outcomes for people experiencing homelessness are improved despite the challenges in accessing affordable accommodation. The WHAT approach is also challenging a long history of competition and, at times, difficult relationships within the Borough. It continues to do this by convening a strategic group of commissioned and non-commissioned services; coordinating a network of practitioners and community organisations; and developing a range of specific rough sleeping initiatives that work across different agencies.
One example of this is the Day Centres Development Project, which delivers a more consistent approach to service provision across the main day centres in Westminster. This includes developing a joint women’s group, sharing information on clients and creating consistent ways of working.
What’s next? The campaign is planning to rebrand in 2019, including the hiring of an independent Chair for their strategic group.