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National Homeless Advice Service

Housing Justice: Supporting the Development of Grassroots Night Shelters by Hadrian Holloway

Posted by natalie_pearson August 08, 2019

Our background

Housing Justice is an organisation that is bringing together the experience and learning of 60 years of our work with the energy and enthusiasm of new staff and ideas. Our work has supported a Faith and Community Night Shelter network of more than 120 projects across England that offer support to people experiencing homelessness.

Current projects

Equipping shelters is our flagship project in London. Funded by the GLA, who recognised our unique position and experience, between November 2018 and March 2019 the project contributed 169 additional shelter beds, 1,785 additional nights of provision and assisted 363 individuals to move into more settled accommodation.

Night shelters in our network and beyond can apply to our Quality Mark accreditation scheme that reward shelters that meet our best practice criteria. This mark is an assurance to the shelter’s local authority, local businesses and potential partners that they have met external and independent standards. The Quality Mark is held by 35 shelters in our network, and we are keen for this number to increase significantly.

The nature of homelessness is complex and constantly shifting, but an enduring feature is that it’s always the most marginalised and vulnerable who are the first to experience it and the last to recover. It is fundamental to our vision that we seek to help the hardest to reach as well as the most visible.

Our Hosting Project links destitute and homeless asylum seekers with Londoners who host them in their spare rooms while they are navigating the long and complex immigration system. The project has placed 82 guests and recruited 90 hosts since 2015, totalling 27,027 nights of hosting. 31 guests have moved on with positive outcomes, of which 25 received leave to remain, this young man was one.

Realising the vision

Our strategy for the future is to continue to champion innovations at the forefront of tackling homelessness, which is why we are launching the Housing Justice Innovation Hub from September. Its purpose is to identify, promote and support innovative ideas within our network and the sector, not only to respond to the changing nature of homelessness but to ultimately outmanoeuvre it. The Hub will be holding a calendar of events for night shelter staff and the homelessness sector across England, developing resources for the shelter network and connecting them to solutions to improve outcomes for their guests.

Already we have been involved with small projects that provide a different perspective or are complimentary to existing and mainstream solutions. For example, a project in North London saw a community rally together to convert a disused industrial unit into a liveable space providing shelter for entrenched rough sleepers in the borough. Another example is Commonweal Housing’s ‘Pods’ – a prefabricated flat pack plywood structure that can be assembled within a shelter space to provide occupants with greater privacy and a dedicated space for their possessions.

Early indicators are that they are popular with guests in night shelters, and that the psychological impact of having their own space allows guests to better imagine and take ownership of their move on strategy. The pods have also been observed to improve the atmosphere of the shelter for the benefit of all guests, with a variety of different spaces allowing for guests to feel that the shelter can respond better to their preferences and therefore creating a more relaxed environment for everyone. The pods are best suited to static location shelters and those that have more space to spare.

Work with us

Housing Justice is a Christian ethos charity, motivated to act on housing injustice by our belief that every person needs a home to be able to flourish and fulfil their potential. Our vision is of a society where everyone has access to a home that truly meets their needs – and we believe in championing grassroots responses to homelessness. If you think we can be of help to you or your organisation, or if you think you have support you can offer us, please do get in touch.

We can offer a variety of support to night shelters and the wider sector, including:

  • Providing start up support for new shelters, covering policies and procedures, advice and practical support, contact Mark for London and Alastair for other locations
  • Offering resources and support for existing shelters, contact Alastair
  • Administering the Equipping Shelters grant programme for London shelters, contact Mark
  • Providing grant support for shelters outside of London, contact Alastair
  • Running the Quality Mark accreditation scheme, contact Alastair
  • More information on the pods, upcoming events and the launch of the Innovation Hub, contact Hadrian.

London Catalyst Team
Mark Brennan – m.brennan@housingjustice.org.uk

Best Practice & Innovation Team

Alastair Reeves – a.reeves@housingjustice.org.uk

Hadrian Holloway – h.holloway@housingjustice.org.uk

You can sign up to hear more about our work, including the Hub, events, news, resources and training by subscribing here, and any general enquiries, please email info@housingjustice.org.uk


By Hadrian Holloway, Resources Officer at Housing Justice