Reflecting on my first year as Chair, I’ve been both humbled and inspired by the resilience and determination of everyone at Evolve, as we seek to navigate the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The learning we acquired within the first year of the pandemic has enabled us to continue to adapt and respond to the changing needs of people without homes, despite the restrictions that we have all faced.
Over this last year, we have exceeded our own targets to resettle more young people into suitable, independent accommodation, whilst also supporting more of our homeless residents to gain meaningful employment and access vocational training opportunities. This has been achieved against a backdrop of reduced access to wider public services and resources brought about by the pandemic.
This year, we launched our career change programme to attract the very best of talent to our organisation. Through this initiative we have recruited staff from a wide range of backgrounds and professions, all of whom share our common goal to make a real contribution to ending homelessness. As our economy and labour market adapts to a post-pandemic world, we hope that others who share our values and purpose will also consider joining us and embarking on a meaningful career for years to come.
We know that the pandemic has also impacted on the mental health of many of our colleagues and homeless residents. In response to this, we agreed that supporting the wellbeing of everyone who lives or works with us should be a key priority within our Corporate Plan. As part of this commitment, we have provided structured counselling to more than 100 people during the pandemic. We have also delivered 120 mental health recovery focused workshops, thanks to the support of our charitable donors. We also trained and deployed colleague volunteers as mental health first aiders, to further support colleagues in maintaining their own wellbeing.
Building on the work of the previous year, we have developed our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion group to deliver on our commitment to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. This group is attended by Isabel Sanchez, one of our Board members, and has already made great progress in adapting our polices and practices to ensure they remain inclusive for all. This includes all aspects of our recruitment and career progression processes, through actively addressing unconscious bias in our selection processes, and creating greater transparency around staff remuneration.
On behalf of our Board, I would like to thank everyone who has continued to support us over this last year. Whether as a colleague, donor, commissioner, volunteer or supplier – your contribution makes a real difference, and enables us to help more people to overcome the ignominy of homelessness and build better and brighter futures.
“Supporting homeless residents through our Health + Wellbeing programmes was another high priority.”
Deputy Director of Operations
It has been another busy and challenging year for our services and homeless residents.
Our teams have shown incredible resilience, strength and compassion through this long period of uncertainty.
It is thanks to this ongoing commitment from our people that we have been able to continue to deliver safe and effective services to our homeless residents and keep each other safe at work.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant there was a significant reduction of external support services, and our own safety restrictions meant a reduction of face-to-face activities.
Normally our homeless residents would have meaningful ways to get involved on a daily basis, but this was harder under the government guidelines. Consequently, our data showed us that more of our homeless residents were engaging in drinking and substance misuse and there was an increase in anti-social behaviour, compared to pre-pandemic years.
We decided early on that our focus had to be on supporting them and our colleagues to maintain good mental health + wellbeing.
Reintroducing Work + Learning and Health + Wellbeing
Supporting homeless residents through our Health + Wellbeing programmes was a high priority. We focused our efforts on providing one-on-one wellbeing walks in the fresh air and socially-distanced workshops as soon as restrictions started to ease. Our Psychological Wellbeing Therapists (PWTs) offered free telephone counselling to homeless residents around mental ill health, drug use and trauma.
While our homeless residents remained centre-stage, we made sure our team members were supported as well. Our Health + Wellbeing resource page on our intranet is open to all colleagues to access as and when they like, alongside a whole host of other wellbeing tools and support.
Good mental health and wellbeing is directly linked to work and learning opportunities and we have supported 168 people into education, training or employment despite the pandemic.
This year we had to make some difficult decisions and take further steps to ensure everyone’s safety, while at the same time maintaining standards of support. Some of these included:
A better place to be
This year we have started making all our services Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE). This has been shown to improve the quality of life for people who use our homelessness services. It will also make Evolve an even better place to place to work for colleagues with the introduction of physical and operational changes.
“Our people are at the heart of what we do.”
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
We’ve come a long way since setting up our Your Voice EDI group in February 2020 and setting a commitment in our corporate plan to focus on Equality Diversity and Inclusion. I am proud of the progress we’ve made, but as with any work that is intrinsic to how people feel at work, how valued they feel, and if they feel they belong, there is always more work to be done. Our people are at the heart of what we do. Every colleague, homeless resident and volunteer has played an important part in our long history of supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.
A top priority for us in 2021, was committing to developing a robust, informed and well-thought out Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
Key highlights from our EDI work:
We are keen to keep making progress and implementing changes through asking and listening to our colleagues, service users, and volunteers.
Imagine a world free from inequality and hate,
where people aren’t afraid to build and create.
Imagine a world where everyone is equal,
where people aren’t belittled or made to feel small.
Imagine a world where colour doesn’t determine how you’re treated,
a place where you can be loved and not silenced or forced to be seated.
Imagine a world where suffering from mental health was okay,
where people didn’t judge or deem you as crazy for being that way.
Imagine a world where everyone was supportive and kind,
where you wasn’t afraid to share your mind.
How much better would a world of us fighting together be?
where violence wasn’t allowed and acceptance was key.
We may have come a long way from generations before,
but we still have a long way to go until we shut the prejudice door.
I don’t care if you are black, mixed, Asian or white,
you deserve to live without having to put up a fight.
I don’t care whether you’re gay, bisexual or straight,
you deserve to be offered opportunities to be something great.
There is way too much stigma and anger surrounding us all,
but let’s find kindness and stop being so bloody judgmental.
No wonder there’s an increase in suicide and mental health,
because people are afraid of just being their self.
We all entered the world equal at the start,
so let’s change the way we live before we depart.
Each day strive to do better and be better in all you do,
don’t be afraid to be proud of you.
We are all human with differences that make us unique,
and sometimes those differences are hard to accept but they don’t make you weak.
Don’t follow the crowds because you’ll lose your true self along the way,
be proud of who you are because your story may inspire others someday.
Remember you never know the battle someone has to face,
don’t add to the struggle of making them question their place.
So in a world of imperfections, strength and peace can be hard to find,
but hold on, speak up and just be kind.
By Elle Fisher, one of our talented service users
Even with the challenges presented by Covid-19, our homeless residents have still gone on to lead positive lives. Read a handful of our stories here.
2020 was undoubtedly challenging for many people living in London, but for Gabe it’s been more than that. It’s been a test of character, confidence and strength which led Gabe to leaving his abusive family home during lockdown, after it all became too much.
Up until her sixth birthday, Shannon and her brother had lived in the care system. She settled in West Norwood after her adoptive parents, having originally planned on adopting one child, took in both siblings. But growing up for six years uncertain, unstable, and confused had eroded Shannon’s mental health and sense of self-worth.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic families have been put under increased strain. Living spaces that were questionably small before, have become claustrophobic with the addition of lockdown measures. For Andrew, this has meant spending almost all his time in a two-bedroom apartment that he shared with his brother and mother.
In a momentous year of yet more change, we’ve continued to provide a high standard of support for our homeless residents and still captured some important, stand-out moments. Read on to learn more.
Our new music studio, which was generously built and gifted to us by Soundproofing UK, has been featured on The Sunday Morning Live Show. The episode was broadcast on Sunday 10 October on BBC1.
Hosted by YolanDa Brown (Cbeebies, MOJO winner), the show features a valued volunteer and the project’s lead, Manny, and 2 of our young residents.
This month is an important one as it is a chance to honour the accomplishments of people of black heritage in every area of society.
Our theme this year was #Proudtobe and we invited colleagues and homeless residents to share what they’re proud to be.
We scored with Crystal Palace F.C. and its charity, Palace for Life Foundation, by launching a cookery course for homeless people in Croydon.
“Moving in and out of lockdowns has encouraged us to be flexible in our working and adaptable to our homeless residents’ needs.”
Health + Wellbeing Manager
The demands placed on us this year have forced us to change how we provide our services and find new ways of working differently. We’ve seen a really positive impact from our programmes in a year that has put health and wellbeing at the forefront like no other.
Moving in and out of lockdowns has encouraged us to be flexible in our working and adaptable to our homeless residents’ needs. Our team of volunteer counsellors has continued to work using phone and video, and some of the team have transitioned to working face to face in a safe way. This means people have had a choice of how to work with us, giving them safety if they want to stay at home, but also providing an opportunity for sessions to continue, even when a counsellor or client is self-isolating.
Our three Psychological Wellbeing Therapists (PWTs) are all now working face to face in our accommodation, ensuring there is good safety practice in place. Due to last year’s success, the PWTs have continued offering regular phone and video meetings and also the essential drop-in sessions that can be used when a person is urgently needing support.
PWTs have started running small group workshops again – using their skills such as aromatherapy, cooking and vision boarding – to offer people a vital opportunity to reconnect with others and their community. Over the summer we embraced the chance to go outside, through 1-2-1 walking therapy sessions, gardening workshops and park trips.
Our team leads on mental health training across the organisation, and this has transitioned successfully online via video to keep physical mixing to a minimum. We also continue to give opportunities for large and small group discussions, activities, and individual learning during these sessions. From this, we have identified key organisations to connect with, to do inreach and training for our services such as IAPT (talking therapies), diabetes groups and suicide prevention training.
We have been investigating how to use virtual reality as part of our therapy offer this year. Using headsets within the wellbeing rooms, people can explore and immerse themselves safely within environments that are both more recognisable and fantastical. This has been particularly helpful for people who have been through relational and developmental trauma, and experience feelings of guilt, shame and regret. The overall feedback is that the experience helps them to relax both physically and mentally, stay present rather than focusing on the past, and feel more optimistic about the possibilities in their future.
How Evolve is supporting Malik
Malik first came to Evolve because he needed to get out of a situation that was having a negative impact on his wellbeing. He described being in a very dark place for a long time and found himself trying to find the reasons for his depression. During his journey at Evolve, Malik decided to note down his strengths and weaknesses, and found that one of the major things really helping him was his passion for art and translating it into something meaningful that people could relate to.
Malik feels coming to Evolve for support was the best thing for him. He’s in an environment that is peaceful and supports his creativity, a much-needed fresh start. Malik aims to keep up this momentum by continuing to build on his strengths.
It is Malik’s talented art work that we have used throughout this report.
Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE)
We started work on our PIE strategy this year, which will convert the organisation into a Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE).
A PIE approach is acknowledged as a way of supporting people out of homelessness, particularly if they have experienced trauma. This involves improving various aspects of our work, such as staff training around trauma, the physical environments at Evolve and building strong relationships among everyone involved at the organisation. A working group has been set up from across the organisation, and we look to become fully PIE over the next two years.
“Building safety and fire prevention remains at the top of our agenda.”
Building safety and fire prevention remains at the top of our agenda. We have invested, and continue to invest, significant sums in additional fire safety improvements at our services in order to meet revised standards and anticipated new building regulations.
Work to resolve cladding issues continues at pace. This year our main focus has been on Alexandra House, Croydon, where a major £2.76m cladding replacement project is nearing completion. This has to date been self-funded as the work was not covered by a Government grant.
As a result, we have had to delay plans to build a new housing development of 60 units, until we can recoup the cost of this vital work. This development is intended to provide much needed move on housing for homeless families and single homeless people, and while the delay is regrettable, we still want to deliver this project in the future.
Research by the National Housing Federation reveals the building safety crisis is now impacting the poorest families in this country. We echo calls for the Government to make further funding available to pay for this remedial work so that we can focus on assisting the estimated 1.6m homeless families in need of somewhere affordable to live.
We took part in a BBC Newsnight feature on how the building safety crisis is affecting social housing in October 2021.
Trusts and Grants
In the 2020-21 financial year, we raised £367,249 from twelve funders: Mayor’s Rough Sleepers Innovation Fund, City Bridge Trust, National Lottery, St Giles BBO, Sir Walter St John, Neighbourly, LandAid, Walcot Foundation, Campden Charities, BBC Children In Need and London Hostels Association. This funding supported our Covid-19 response, Health + Wellbeing, Psychological Wellbeing Therapists, Horizons Programme, Peer Circles Programme, Kensington and Chelsea service, Work + Learning and an educational bursary specifically for young people.
This was a challenging year for Trusts and Grants income due to the lingering impact of Covid-19 related funding priorities. However, we have still managed to secure some key funding, and are most crucially still providing our key charitable-funded programmes.
March saw the launch of the month-long campaign: #Move52. With 1 in 52 people in London declared homeless, we saw this as a call to action. The #Move52 campaign helped us raise awareness about this startling statistic while fundraising to help make a difference.
We raised £8,222 in donations and Gift Aid thanks to over 250 supporters. This included a combination of corporate partners and individual giving. We even made it into the Newbury News thanks to our two youngest fundraisers, Harriet and Oliver of Boxford village in Berkshire.
The Big Give
This year, we took on our first ever Big Give Christmas Challenge, with a mission to raise £20,000 for our Health + Wellbeing Team. The funds will go towards providing a specialist Psychological Wellbeing Therapist supporting women across our services who have experienced trauma.
Setting a £5,000 target in pledged support, the Fundraising Team were able to meet this target a full two weeks ahead of schedule, with a group of committed core pledgers excited to publicly back the campaign. Completing the match-pot, the charity secured a further £5,000 in champion-funding from the Local to London Fund in early October 2021.
We joined forces with the Health + Wellbeing Team to deliver a compelling Women + Homelessness-focused Lunch + Learn at the end of October. Further donation commitments followed, notably from The Optimal Group, who offered to kick off #GivingTuesday with a £1,000 donation to the campaign.
Before launch, a full communications plan was created to empower a growing audience of warm and new supporters to share the campaign in their networks and encourage donations. At this point, with £11,000 already secured towards the total campaign goal, the team went all out to steward support from across Evolve’s network and their own contacts to reach the target.
The final amount raised was £14, 342, reaching 72% of our target. We are so grateful to everyone who supported the campaign and were pleased with what we achieved. We continued to source the remaining funding from other sources and are pleased to announce we were able to provide specialist therapy to the women who needed it most in our services.
The Big Give Christmas Challenge has provided an excellent launchpad for our new Partnerships Executive to develop new relationships and revitalise lapsed corporate support.
A bright new feature on the fundraising calendar, we look forward to using our learning from the first ever Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign to create bigger, bolder campaigns generating year-on-year income growth for the charity.
Lunch + Learn
In a bid to give-back to our community, particularly at a time of uncertainty and stress caused by Covid, we set about creating virtual events that would both, connect people, and be insightful.
Our Lunch + Learn events were all about making valuable use of your lunch time, connecting with others and learning something new.
Given we have an in-house host of experts on mental health, and the pandemic was squeezing that pressure point for the community, we focused our attention on health and wellbeing.
Our event in June, centred around ‘PIE’ and how to create a psychologically informed environment both within the office and working from home. It also touched on maintaining healthy working relationships whilst at a distance and addressed potential anxieties around coming out of lockdown.
Our second event focused on women’s mental health; the differences faced by women and how working practices could support better mental health for their colleagues.
Both looked through the prism of how we apply methods and practices to the people we work with, and shared knowledge and easy take-aways that are valuable for anyone in our community.
Based on the success and warm reception of these events, we look forward to continuing them in the next year.
Throughout the year, we continued to see kind, regular food donations come in across the community to all of our services.
Special thanks must go to Nando’s, Marks & Spencers, Pret, City Harvest and Sainsbury’s, as well as smaller businesses such as Jones Bros, Brown & Green, Coughlan’s Bakery, FoodCycle and Blue Jay Cafe for their regular support.
Whilst our homeless residents are on their journey to independence and learning to manage restricted finances, food donations truly help people get through the week. They are also a valuable tool of bringing people together as collecting foods offers an opportunity to talk with our teams, we host breakfast and lunch clubs, as well as an opportunity to develop learning around cooking and healthy eating.
We are as ever, appreciative for every generous donation we received throughout 2021.
We are incredibly proud of the work we do supporting our residents on their journey to independence. Despite another unpredictable year full of adverse challenges, we continued to provide quality accommodation, supporting our homeless residents with well-trained and dedicated staff. As a result of these life-changing programmes we offer, over two thirds of our residents have moved into independence this year.
Click on the map below to see our top performing services.
*Figures show the percentage of people who have moved on to independence
Outcomes achieved by our homeless residents:
Adetoun Isikalu, Adrian Bradley, Alex Carbutt-Todd, Alice Hainsworth, Alison McGibbon, Andrew Wakeman, Anita Gajdecki, Anita Kaur, Angela Johnson, Anna Williams, Ann Little, Anouska Tamony, Aure Mutetelli, Azhar Rizvi, Beatrice Pecastaing, Bianca Cole, Brendan Doolan, Bruce Pope, Bruce Wates, Bryon Cole, Carol Chase, Caroline Johnson, Charles Fraser, Christine McCafferty, Ciara Robinson, Claire Hubbard, Clare Boothroyd Brooks, David Shrimpton, David Williams-Campbell, Dores Schembri, Duncan Pickwell, Elizabeth Elgueta, Elizabeth Fleming, Emma Scott, Emily Sam, Eric Vardy, Francesca Nichols, Greg Campbell, Halani Foulsham, Hannah Leach, Hilary Knight, Hilary Walker, Ioan Cornwall, Isabelle Pallier, James Eagle, James Nichols, Jan Sellers, Jane Campbell, Jason Langley, Jess Fox, Jigna Dodia, Joanna Mitchell, John Langan, Jon Goulding, Josie Gaunt, Joshua Gill, Karen Norman, Kathleen Griggs, Kevin Mahoney, Kirill Plekhanov, Lauren Black, Linda Sanders, Loraine Davis, Lucy Jones, Lyndall Stein, Maggie Denman, Maggie Rafalowicz, Mark Colhoun, Martin Dakin, Mary Dunn, Matthew Sims, Mel Spooner, Michael Bolton, Mig Kerr, Miriam Ish-Horowicz, Mitre Thebe, Moreen Pascal Davies, Murray Forsyth, Nigel Warburg, Naomi Langan, Nicholas Duvill, Nicola Pepper, Patricia Ward, Rana Conway, Rebecca Taylor, Robert Gray, Rob Hughes, Robert Huffey, Roni Hylton, Ruban Selvanayagam, Sam Giffard, Sharon Kean, Shaun Griggs, Simon McGrath, Siobhan Doyle, Stacey Housego, Stephanine Pavesi, Sula Hancock, Susan Wilkes, Tom King, Toni-Ann Murphy, Valerie Greenfield, Viv Harris, Vivien Williams.
Alex Bull, Adrew Cooper, Ben Zuka, Brenda Baxter, Charmaine Charles, Chester Rogers, Christopher Bridger, Esther Mercer, Gloria Nwosu, Jamel Leander-Thomas, Janine Daguio, Josephine Birungi, Joshua Piercey, Kelly Walker, Liam Straite, Lianne Small, Nigel Warburg, Paolo Nyberg, Ricardo Whyte, Tim Henderson, Valerie Idemudia.
Greater London Authority, London Borough of Bromley, London Borough of Croydon, London Borough of Lambeth, London Borough of Lewisham, London Borough of Merton, London Borough of Sutton, London Borough of Wandsworth, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Trusts and Foundations
Breyer Foundation, BBC Children in Need, LandAid, National Lottery Communities Fund, St Gilles Trust, Sir Walter St John Educational Charity, London Hostels Association.
Blue Jay Cafe, Brown and Green, City Harvest, Costco, Coughlans Bakery, FoodCycle, Jones Bros, Marks & Spencers, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Pret, Sainsbury’s, Sunshine Tropical Foods, Wimbledon food bank.
Corporates and Community Groups
Archway Building Consultancy, Auditel, BBC Newsnight, Bromley Rotary Club, Callaly, Chaffinch Brook School, Cleanovation, Computers 4 charity, Croydon BID, Croydon Rotary Club, Coversure, DTT Removals, Fidelity Energy ltd, Grace to the Humble, Harrow Rotary Club, Hey Girl, idverde UK, ITV Studios, Kelling Designs, Kensington and Chelsea Rotary Club, Kick Game, Liberty Hygiene, Life City Church, London Homeless Charities Group, Lush, Millbank LLP, Optimal Maintenance, OusideIn, Pin Point Recruitment, SA Law, Sainsbury’s, SME Group, Soundproofing UK, St Mary of the Boltons, Stormont House School, Stonegrove ltd, St Winifred’s Church, The Housing Executive, To Be Frank, Trinity School, Tropic Skincare, Walter Lily.
Chair of Audit Committee
Audit Committee Members
Director of Operations
Deputy Director of Operations
Director of Corporate Services and Company Secretary
Director of People and Culture
Director of Business Development
Charity law requires charities to make a statement regarding fundraising activities. The legislation defines fundraising as ‘soliciting or otherwise procuring money or other property for charitable purposes’. Such amounts receivable are presented in other operating income.
We have a Fundraising Strategy and a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy, both approved by our Board. We do not work with any professional fundraisers, or use cold calling or direct mail. We are registered with the Fundraising Regulator and comply with their code of practice. The day to day management of all income generation is delegated to the executive team who are accountable to the Directors.
We have received no complaints in relation to fundraising activities.
In November 2020, the Housing Ombudsman released a Complaint Handling Code for landlords to adhere to. This is best practice guidance for complaint handling and we completed a self-assessment form to show how procedures compare to the code. As a result, we made the following changes:
We implemented weekly monitoring of all stage one complaints to check investigation and response times were adhering to the 10 working days set in our policy and that the quality of response was to a high standard. Going into 2022 we will be reviewing our internal complaint handling training and continue to monitor and learn from all complaints.
From 30/3/2020 to 28/3/2021
We received 82 stage one complaints
A customer satisfaction survey was carried out in October 2021, and 273 people completed the survey.
Eight-eight per cent of respondents said they know how to make a complaint and 90% of them feel comfortable doing so.
This was a high response and we encourage people to highlight any issues they have with our services so we can continue to improve.