Westminster Homeless Action Together (WHAT), the Westminster Connections Week, which ran from 10 – 17 July 2016 was co-ordinated by a group of partners including St Mungo’s, The Connection, The Passage, West London Mission, Groundswell and Westminster City Council. This was the first UK volunteer community survey of its kind of people sleeping rough.
More than 300 volunteers speaking 36 languages each gave a minimum of ten hours to the project. These volunteers formed 32 teams to cover eight square miles in Westminster, London. They encountered 461 people sleeping rough, with 267 surveys being completed. Analysis of the surveys found that 87% of people were male, 47% were 35 or under, 49% had come to London for work and 10% were working whilst sleeping rough. More detailed results can be found here and the full report can be downloaded here.
Lyndall Stein has written about the volunteers and individuals she met in Westminster and Linda Butcher’s blog focuses on why gathering data on homelessness is a call to action. Petra Salva, Director of Street Homelessness and Outreach Services at St. Mungo’s, writes about their involvement with WHAT and committing to end street homelessness.
Since the Connections Week the partners in WHAT have been working to advance discussions on Housing First in the city. As a result of the campaign Westminster Council’s Rough Sleeping Strategy will include a section on the need to include the community in responses to end street homelessness.