Since the first survey of rough sleepers in Croydon last year, our work with partners Crisis, Expert Link, Homeless Link, Thames Reach, faith based groups, volunteers and Croydon Council has identified the barriers that prevent rough sleepers from getting and staying off the streets. System-wide changes are needed within both current homelessness provision and public services in order to successfully end chronic rough sleeping in Croydon by 2020.
Our task and finish groups, made up of local volunteers, are meeting regularly to tackle the issues identified but it is clear that in order to make the changes needed, we need buy-in at the highest level. We are planning to hold an event in early 2018 for key influencers within the borough and central Government to share what we have learned so far and what we need from them in order to end chronic rough sleeping in Croydon by 2020.
Completing the CR Zero 2020 survey was one of the best things I ever did. I am starting to feel like part of society again.
One outcome of the campaign so far is an increase in engagement with existing services from members of the street population.
When we met Jack, 28, during Connections Week in August 2016, he was sleeping in a derelict building in central Croydon. He had been sleeping rough on the streets of Croydon for six years and first became homeless at 18 when his family were evicted from their flat.
‘When you are homeless, you no longer feel like part of society, you lose your self-respect and dignity. One of the worst parts is you have no way of keeping clean.’
Jack moved into the Fitze Millennium Centre, one of our supported housing services in Crystal Palace, in January 2017 and his life has changed significantly. With the support of our staff and Work + Learning Team, who help our customers achieve their goals and ambitions and get into education and employment, Jack is now learning to read and write. He is completing his CSCS Card qualification as he wants to become a bricklayer. Most importantly for Jack, he has been able to re-connect with his children.
‘Completing the CR Zero 2020 survey was one of the best things I ever did. I am starting to feel like part of society again.’
We are so grateful to have received such strong support for CR Zero 2020 from the local community, third sector organisations, housing and health departments, faith based groups and World Habitat. With their continued support, we will break down the barriers that prevent people coming off the streets and end chronic street homeless in Croydon by 2020.
Section image: Jack at Crystal Palace station, close to Fitze Millennium Centre, Croydon
After a series of life-changing circumstances, including the loss of close family members, Luke became homeless at the age of 18. During this time, Luke experienced significant health problems, which led to him being hospitalised.
Luke moved into Ingram Court in August 2016, and with the support of our staff began to identify his unique strengths and talents and started to feel optimistic about his future.
‘I gained the energy to take care of myself again and I became much more confident. The staff were so supportive and helped me to manage my mental health and develop life skills such as building a daily routine.’
Luke also engaged with our Work + Learning Team where he attended photography sessions with Accumul8, which helped to build his confidence and skills.
‘I started to appreciate simply being me, because there is no other person in the world like me.’
Since moving on, Luke has re-connected with his family and has found employment. It is his goal to return to university to study History.
‘I was fascinated with History at school and I would love to return to university to continue my education.’
Luke is one of the 495 people we supported to move-on positively in 2016-17.
Section image: Luke outside BOXPARK near our services in Croydon
This year, we set up a working group of customers and staff to co-produce a new model of support for our customers - focussing more on customers’ assets and strengths and their relationship with the wider community.
In my younger years I used to be really involved in training. It was great to be able to use my skills and expertise to help with the training plan for the new support model. One of the best parts about the new model of support is that it was created alongside customers. We were able to give our ideas about how to improve it and I am really pleased with the results.
Stephen, who lives in Palmer House, one of our adult services in Croydon, was part of the working group.
‘In my younger years I used to be really involved in training. It was great to be able to use my skills and expertise to help with the training plan for the new support model. One of the best parts about the new model of support is that it was created with customers. We were able to give our ideas about how to improve it and I am really pleased with the results.’
The new support approach focuses on a customers’ wellbeing, their satisfaction with where they live, their community connections and their aspirations. Following a successful pilot within two services, we are now rolling the new model of support out across the whole organisation.
Section photo: Stephen outside the ‘Saffron Square’ building near to our services in Croydon
Customers’ support plans now focus on their assets, strengths and their relationship with the wider community.
One highlight was our partnership with COMO, who are a specialist retail and commercial office fit out contractor, part of Mace.
We were approached by Richard McPherson, COMO’s project manager for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs building in Ruskin Square, Croydon, earlier this year, who wanted to support a project in the local community.
Through the generous donations from COMO and its trade partners, we have created an urban gardening project at Alexandra and Palmer House that enables customers to develop their life skills, improves their health and wellbeing and provides greater ownership of where they live. The programme also gives customers the opportunity to gain qualifications in gardening skills and food hygiene.
We are so grateful for Richard’s support and commitment to raising the money needed to deliver this project.
We welcomed this experience of working with Evolve during our time in Croydon. We have remained passionate about being able to give something back to the Croydon community.’
We are delighted to be part of this partnership with COMO. We would like to thank them and the Mace Foundation, as well as their trade partners who donated including: Style, Howard Bros, Optima, Bancroft, Celtic, Smartcomm, Loughton Contracts, Nelsam, and Wingate.
We would like to thank all our corporate partners that have supported our work in 2017- a full list can be found at the end of this report. Next year we hope to develop more exciting collaborations that will make a lasting difference to lives and communities.
Section photo: COMO presenting Evolve with a cheque for a gardening project at Alexandra and Palmer Hoe
Supported by The Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund, Peer Circles is a peer support project helping severely disadvantaged people to overcome multiple barriers to access training, volunteering and employment opportunities.
Peer Circles offers practical and emotional help to reduce social isolation, build skills and confidence, and work towards employment with over 500 participants over the three years.
The project is specifically aimed at people who are highly marginalised and need help to address multiple and complex issues. These could include homelessness, a history of offending, substance misuse issues and difficulties engaging with mainstream services.
A key strength of Peer Circles is using specially trained individuals known as Peer Advisors to offer support. They have first-hand experience of overcoming disadvantages themselves and offer a unique perspective to support clients with what they are going through.
Ricky, a participant (and former Evolve customer), shares how he has benefited from becoming involved with the project.
This is a partnership project involving leading organisations in their fields – St Giles Trust, Evolve Housing + Support, Look Ahead Care, Support and Housing, Shelter, Change Grow Live and Warrior Programme. Each organisation brings its own key strengths to the project for the benefit of the people it helps.
This year we have offered the Peer Circles service in Bromley, Croydon and Merton. Our aim is to expand the service to Bexley, Richmond, Sutton and the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. Participants in the service have already achieved outcomes in employment and training, seen improvements in their housing situations and increased engagement with their mental health and substance misuse services.
The Peer Circles project has been very helpful; it’s helped me plan ahead and shown me what the best options for my future are. I would definitely recommend Peer Circles as they really do help you to find the best choices for your life.
Ricky, a former customer and participant of Peer Circles
On 1 April 2017 Grenfell Housing and Training joined Evolve Housing + Support. With a combined turnover of £12.45m and working in eight local authorities, we are now the third largest provider of accommodation for homeless people in London.
Our two organisations have a lot in common; most importantly, we place the people we support at the heart of our work and by joining together, our new organisation is now able to achieve even better outcomes for many more people.
This merger means we are now working with c200 more young homeless people each year and vulnerable adult benefiting from a training service and has expanded our work into the London Boroughs of Merton, Wandsworth, and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. We are delighted to bring our organisations together; it is of real benefit to the people we support and our combined financial strength will enable us to continue to make a lasting difference to lives and communities.
*There is no affiliation between Grenfell Housing and Training and the Grenfell Tower
We are delighted to have been shortlisted for three awards this year. CR Zero 2020 was shortlisted for the UK Housing Awards 2017 for ‘an outstanding approach to tackling homelessness’, and was commended in the London Homelessness Awards.
We are also delighted to be have been shortlisted for the Croydon Business Excellence Awards for the ‘Best charity or social enterprise’ category.
As an award-winning entrepreneur and finalist of The Apprentice 2014, Bianca has inspired our customers to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs.
'I am delighted to be working with the Evolve team, the work that they do in London is imperative to the community. I hope that my experience and time will really help their customers to get back on their feet.'
Bianca is the founder of 'The Be Group', a hugely successful enterprise built on the premise that everyone should have access to services that advance their career development and build their personal brand, and ‘Bianca Miller London’ which specialises in nude hosiery to suit up to 45 different skin tones.
We are so grateful to Bianca and everything that she has done this year and we are excited to be working together.
We are pleased to have been successful in tendering for the Hillyard Street service in Lambeth. This service supports seven young people leaving care, many of whom are in full time study or employment and acts as a step-down service before they move on to independent accommodation.
Section image: Bianca Miller-Cole becomes our Ambassador
Also a big thank you to all of our generous individual supporters who have make donations to Evolve Housing + Support in the last year.
Registered charity no. 1099051