During the first three months of the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 500 people were moved off the streets of Westminster and into hotels – the offer was made to anyone rough sleeping even if they had No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Find out about the full emergency response from Westminster and other campaign cities in our latest report: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Joined the campaign: Early 2016
Who’s involved? The campaign is led by the Westminster Homelessness Partnership (WHP), 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 2,512 people between April 2018 and March 2019, which was a 16% rise on the previous year.
Westminster Homelessness Partnership is committed to increasing joint working so that outcomes for people experiencing homelessness are improved despite the challenges in accessing affordable accommodation. Their approach is also challenging a long history of competition and, at times, difficult relationships within the Borough.
The Day Centres Development Project has proven to be a successful initiative by the partnership, by delivering a more consistent approach to service provision across the main day centres in Westminster. This includes a joint women’s group, sharing information on clients and creating consistent ways of working.
What’s next? They are planning a full re-launch as the Westminster Homelessness Partnership in 2020 to enable agencies to work better together, use resources more effectively and tackle local issues around street homelessness in partnership with the local council.