United kingdom
St Mungo’s Homeless Charity

St Mungo’s is one of the largest UK providers of outreach services in the country, each night providing a bed and support to more than 3,150 people.

Chestertons has been supporting St Mungo’s as its main nominated charity since 2015, donating nearly £200,000.

Since 2018, the Chestertons Foundation has fully funded a Volunteer Coordinator role, to allow St Mungo’s to set up and run its innovative First Response initiative. This has been a great success, with volunteers dedicating thousands of hours to locating people sleeping rough across the capital, and giving them direct assistance. In a three-year period, they worked the equivalent of about 1,380 outreach team shifts.

In addition to fundraising, we also encourage staff at Chestertons estate agencies to undertake volunteer outreach shifts across London, giving them a better idea of the challenges rough sleepers – and the team at St Mungo’s – face.

Our Impact

In a 3-year period, our help led to 1,380 extra outreach shifts at St Mungo’s
Our donations help homeless people in the most direct ways possible
Funding a permanent role means more hours and people power to help the vulnerable

Our Initiatives for St Mungo’s

First Response

We teamed with St Mungo’s to initiate First Response in 2018. The scheme currently has over 50 volunteers devoting time to help tackle homelessness in London.

Mathilde Dupouy, St Mungo’s First Response Coordinator, said, ‘First Response has made a huge difference and wouldn’t have been possible without support from The Chestertons Foundation. Our fantastic First Response volunteers spend hours searching the streets looking for vulnerable people sleeping rough across London to make sure they are supported. Their incredible contribution means that our outreach teams can dedicate more time to offering people routes out of homelessness and towards recovery.’

First Response works by recruiting and training volunteers to work alongside Streetlink – the national rough sleeping referral service – and St Mungo’s London outreach teams, to find people who are sleeping rough. St Mungo’s is one of the largest providers of outreach services in the country.

The volunteers locate people who are homeless, sometimes using information from the public who report to us where they have seen someone sleeping outside. They then let St Mungo’s dedicated outreach teams know if they need to respond, or if that person cannot be found.

Typically, over 74% of these public referrals are not found, meaning that specialist outreach workers’ time is often spent checking empty sites. Thanks to the efforts of First Response volunteers filtering out these referrals, St Mungo’s specialist outreach workers are able to use their time more effectively, ensuring as many people as possible can be supported. In the three-year period from 2018, First Response volunteers dedicated over 5,500 hours to locating people sleeping rough across the capital – the equivalent of approximately 1,380 outreach team shifts.

Rumbi, a Rapid Intervention Worker for Westminster Outreach Team, says, ‘I started working with First Response volunteers over a year ago and the volunteers really help me in my work… Instead of having to look for all the referrals, we delegate some to our First Responders who then provide us with the outcome for each referral they check. It’s a big deal for volunteers to give up their time, and I really commend them all.’

Salah Mussa, Chairman of the Chestertons Foundation, says, ‘The Chestertons Foundation is delighted to support St Mungo’s innovative approach to reaching more people who are rough sleeping across London. We are incredibly proud and grateful to all the staff and volunteers that put themselves on the frontline to support people experiencing homelessness – selfless acts that have without doubt saved countless lives.’

Helping the homeless during the Covid-19 pandemic

The partnership between St Mungo’s and Chestertons played an integral role in the emergency response to the outbreak of Covid-19. Despite being restricted in what they could do on the streets during the pandemic, volunteers switched from helping search for people sleeping rough, to supporting St Mungo’s staff in the emergency hotels, which were used to accommodate people who had been rough sleeping so they could safely isolate from the virus. Between 24 March and 4 December 2020, volunteers completed a total of 791 hours in our emergency hotels, and helped over 4,000 people isolate safely, off the streets during the pandemic.

Dominic Olins, a First Response volunteer since 2019 who also helped clients in emergency hotel accommodation during Covid-19, says, ‘Volunteering with First Response is a great experience because you feel like you’re making a valuable contribution and your efforts have tangible results… As volunteers, we’re there to respond to a need and increase efficiency, so we must be able to go with the flow. If you are thinking about volunteering with First Response, I would say definitely do it!’

The First Response programme is currently operating in the London boroughs of Westminster and Tower Hamlets. If you would like to volunteer and see what opportunities are available, please click on the get involved link below.

Get Involved

If you’d like to volunteer with St Mungo’s, get involved here https://www.mungos.org/get-involved/volunteer/

Outreach for St Mungo’s

As well as fundraising, Chestertons Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of St Mungo’s, its cause and the work it does. We have encouraged Chestertons estate agency staff in London to spend an evening shift with the St Mungo’s Outreach Team, walking the streets of London and speaking with people who are in need of shelter and support.

This not only provides additional resource for the charity but helps others engage with vulnerable people and better understand the causes and challenges of homelessness. Many of the staff at Chestertons, including the CEO, have now unddertaken an outreach walk and subsequently approach fundraising with more passion and understanding than before.

Real Lettings

Chestertons estate agency also supports St Mungo’s with its social lettings service, Real Lettings. This was set up in 2005 to help secure homes in the private sector for vulnerably housed and homeless people, helping them escape the cycle of homelessness and prepare them for the private rental sector.

We use our offices to host coffee mornings for homeless people working with St Mungo’s Real Lettings team. This provides a setting for Q&A sessions, on-hand advice and other support.

Donating to The Chesterton’s Foundation means directly helping good causes