A history of Thames Reach and homelessness in London
Only six people recorded sleeping rough on the
streets of London.
Homelessness begins to increase and charities are
founded to deal with the growing problem.
Bondway Shelter, a dormitory-style hostel in South
Bondway Housing Association is formed and takes
over management of the shelter.
The widespread closure of old-style hostels and
reception centres radically reduces the number of hostel beds.
The 'Hostels Initiative' replaces some of the older
provisions with much smaller, but higher quality supported housing projects.
The first of four Bondway supported housing
projects – eventually spanning Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth – is
Thames Reach is set up and funded by the Greater
London Council to undertake outreach work with people sleeping rough on the
streets of central London. This is in response to growing political concern and
embarrassment at the high visibility of homeless people.
Over 1,000 people are sleeping rough in London on
any one night. The numbers of rough sleepers are boosted by restrictions placed
on the claiming of welfare benefits to meet 'board and lodgings', and on
benefit payments to younger people.
Thames Reach opens Stamford Street hostel near
Following pressure from political groups, local
authorities and the voluntary sector, the Government creates the first of three
successive three-year 'Rough Sleepers Initiatives'. These provide additional
services and resources, including an expansion of outreach and resettlement
work, and the funding of temporary and permanent accommodation.
Thames Reach opens Shroton Street hostel in
The Department of Health creates the 'Homeless
Mentally Ill Initiative' (HMII), to provide community mental health care and
high support accommodation for rough sleepers. Two years later.
Thames Reach opens the Aberdour & Galleywall
project – the first of its HMII high-support mental health schemes – and forges
a long-term partnership with the START Mental Health team in South London.
Bondway opens the unique Robertson Street project,
providing 42 places for older, vulnerable ex-rough sleepers, many of whom have
Lambeth High Street opens – the second of Thames
Reach's HMII accommodation projects. The first of Thames Reach's permanent
supported flats also opens, as part of a programme providing over 60 bed spaces
in Lambeth and Southwark.
The new Labour Government's Social Exclusion Unit
undertakes an extensive study of rough sleeping, leading to the creation of the
Rough Sleepers' Unit. 620 people are recorded as sleeping rough on any one
night across Greater London with 237 in Westminster alone. This figure is only a
snapshot from a single night and the numbers sleeping rough over the year are
Thames Reach is awarded the contracts for outreach
work with rough sleepers in two of the busiest areas in central London,
covering most of Westminster.
The Graham House hostel opens, replacing the old
Thames Reach and Bondway merge, creating one of the
largest homelessness charities in London. The Bondway Soup Run is replaced by
the London Street Rescue outreach service, which encourages people on the
street to move into accommodation.
The Rough Sleepers Unit announces that its primary
target set by government – a two-thirds reduction in the numbers of people
sleeping rough across England – has been met.
Street counts in Westminster, the borough with the
highest concentration of rough sleepers in the country, show fewer than 150
people sleeping out on any one night, the lowest figure for twenty years.
Thames Reach launches a campaign to highlight the
links between begging and hard drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.
Thames Reach Bondway launches the GROW scheme –
Giving Real Opportunities for Work – which aims to foster an environment within
the organisation and the sector that encourages the employment of people with
experience of homelessness. A target is set of having 20 per cent of the workforce
made up of former homeless people by the end of 2009 – a target that is
Thames Reach launches a campaign highlighting the
dangers of super-strength lagers and ciders which have become one of the
biggest killers of homeless people.
It calls for higher taxes on the drinks in a bid to discourage people from
consuming these very strong and cheap drinks and in a bid to see people
switching to weaker and less harmful brands.
calls on the drinks industry to behave more responsibly.
Thames Reach Bondway focuses on the prevention of
homelessness among people who may be in danger of losing their tenancies. New
‘Reach’ floating support schemes are launched with funding from local
2012, the charity is running six separate Reach schemes across London in the
boroughs of Brent, Croydon, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lewisham and
The organisation changes its name to Thames Reach.
a decade where the numbers of people sleeping rough in London had been
decreasing, numbers start to rise. Between 2004/5 and 2006/7, there is a 14 per
cent rise with nearly 3000 people sleeping rough across the course of the year.
Reach launches a campaign to highlight the plight of the ‘young olds’ –
vulnerable middle aged former rough sleepers suffering from the types of
life-threatening problems more common among people twenty years older.
addiction to super-strength lagers and ciders, heroin and crack cocaine abuse
have all taken their toll on these people.
and liver disease, memory loss, incontinence and poor mobility are the results.
Reach calls on local authorities to give greater priority to developing
projects which will help these people enjoy a better quality of life.
20,000 people have been helped off the streets of London in the past decade by
outreach teams such as Thames Reach’s London Street Rescue service.
- The Mayor of London’s launches the
London Delivery Board with the aim of ending rough sleeping in the capital by
the end of 2012.
- Composed of councils, homelessness charities including Thames Reach, the police
and other key players, its aim has been to both help those people living on the
streets to escape homelessness and to provide extra resources meaning no one
new to the streets spends a second night there.
- The London Delivery Board
launches a plan to help the 205 most entrenched rough sleepers in London who
are living on the streets. By 2012, over three quarters of them are no longer
on the streets.
- A new emergency helpline is
launched which the public can phone to report the sighting of anybody they are
worried about as they been spotted sleeping rough in London – 0870 383 3333
- In 2011, the No Second Night
Out strategy saw the introduction of an assessment centre in Islington dealing
with people new to the streets in central London boroughs and that helped over
a 1000 people in its first year. Thames Reach‘s London Street Rescue plays a
key role in finding people and taking them to the assessment centre.
increases the tax on super-strength lagers following a lengthy Thames Reach
is involved in innovative work with the Living Well collaborative, a coalition
of commissioners, service users, carers and providers who are reshaping the way
mental health services are provided in the London borough of Lambeth. Staff
from its Community Options Team help people to manage their own recovery in the
figures for autumn 2011 compiled from data provided by all 326 local
authorities across England – from both rough sleeping counts and estimates – indicates
a total of 2,181 people sleeping rough. This is up by 413 – 23 per cent – from
the autumn 2010 total of 1,768. London had the highest number of rough sleepers
with a total of nearly 450.
- The street counts represent a snapshot of the
number of people sleeping rough on a single night.
Rough sleeping figures are
collected through local authority street counts and estimates. All 326 local
housing authorities across England provided a figure.
counts were undertaken by 46 local authorities where it was believed that the
local rough sleeping problem justified counting and estimates were provided by
the other 283 local authorities.
counts and estimates represent a snapshot of the number of people sleeping
rough on a single night.
2012 total of rough sleeping counts and estimates indicates a total of 2,309
people. This is up by 128 – 6 per cent – from the Autumn 2011 total of 2,181.
Reach has gone on record to query some of these estimates and whether they
accurately reflect the situation on any one night – some towns have estimated
higher figures than those reported by councils conducting street counts in
well-developed urban areas with well established and higher levels of
homelessness support services. This could indicate some local authorities have
misinterpreted the Government’s guidance and are not estimating the number of
on any one night but across a longer timescale. Examples of this include
figures of 25 people for Colchester and 26 Chichester for any one night, which
seem particularly high, bearing in mind snapshot figures in London are
approximately only ten per cent of the annual total.
the largest number of rough sleepers at 557, which accounted for 24% of the
total. This percentage is probably an underestimate once the misinterpretation
of government guidelines for counting by other areas is taken into account.
people were seen sleeping rough by outreach workers in London across the course
of the year between April 1 2011 and March 31, 2012. This is an increase of 43%
compared to 201/11. Enhanced levels of outreach services as part of No Second
Night Out means that people sleeping rough, and in particular new people to the
streets, are more likely to be contacted. The greatest increase occurred in
April to May 2011, when the No Second Night Out project started.
Reach starts running the Camden Spectrum Centre alongside its other award
winning resource centres in Hackney and Stockwell. These resource centres are dedicated
to helping homeless people turn their lives around.
Reach launches ACE, an innovative payment by results project, which will work
with 415 entrenched rough sleepers and people caught up in a revolving door
lifestyle, constantly moving in and out of hostels. The aim is help people into stable accommodation
and reduce rough sleeping in the capital.
Reach’s Employment Academy opens in Camberwell. Set
in Grade 11 listed building covering 20,000 square feet, its aim will be to
help thousands of long-term unemployed Londoners and formerly homeless people
find employment. It specialises in the fields of catering, social care,
construction, security and retail.