Through our programmes and activities we make a difference on many levels. Below are a few of the ones we’re most proud of:
LHA London is hugely proud of its collaboration with New Horizons www.nhyouthcentre.org.uk and DePaul www.depaul.org.uk. Through ‘Hotel 1824’ we were able to utilise our Hounslow site to provide essential support to young people aged between 18 and 24 who were at risk of homelessness.
LHA London was able to collaborate with The Passage www.passage.org.uk as part of its repurposing program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration saw the two charities work together to utilise LHA London’s Holland House site to allow The Passage to continue its essential work whilst its own accommodation, located at Victoria, was fully refurbished. The collaboration was able to bring 125 people from the street into the assessment centre. We were able to provide an additional 15 emergency health bed spaces as well and we successfully moved 85 people from Holland House into accommodation achieving 73% positive move on in this period.
Andrew was a primary school teacher in Zimbabwe until 23 years ago when he came to the UK because his association with the anti-apartheid movement was putting him in danger. Once he arrived in London, he was able to work for a short while teaching English as a foreign language. He was very happy with his new life, until he ran into problems with immigration. That’s when Andrew lost his job and then his home.
Andrew would walk the streets all night long. When he came to The Passage, Andrew had nothing, his status meant that he had no access to benefits, which also meant it was impossible for him to find a home. He was appointed an experienced case worker, Helen, our Migrant Development Coordinator, and she would make sure Andrew had all the essentials he needed: emergency accommodation, food, bus fare, phone credit, and clothes.
Andrew was supported by our Immigration Solicitor through the long and complex process to gain settled status so that he could get access to benefits, find sustainable accommodation, and get back to work. Then the pandemic hit.
During the first lockdown, Helen moved Andrew into Holland House under the government’s ‘Everyone In’ campaign in which The Passage played a key role to ensure anyone facing homelessness had a room to keep them safe and off the streets. She would visit him to make sure he had food and check in on his mental health and wellbeing. Andrew said that this was a significant moment for him; he felt supported by Helen, had a roof over his head, and even though we were in a pandemic, positive things started to happen.
Fast forward to today and Andrew has now won his case for settled status. Even after 23 years of applying he never gave up, and neither did The Passage. Now he’s working in construction where he’s sat several exams to gain a qualification and has been awarded student of the year. He also has a permanent place to call home. In his own words Andrew says, “I’ve come so far. I’ve started to look ahead, to smell the goodness of life.”
Street homelessness should not exist in 21st century Britain and we can all play a role in the fight to end it. We all have a role to play in ending street homelessness for good together so no one should face the same challenges as Andrew. Together we can help more people to ‘smell the goodness of life’.
LHA London and Glass Door worked together to repurpose two of our sites in Central London. Our two teams worked alongside each other sharing expertise to support people who would otherwise have been sleeping rough.
Frank (not his real name) lived most of his adult life in the comfort of long-term, co-habiting relationships. He became homeless after a family argument; friction and conflict were rife, and eventually he found himself living on the streets. “When I was on the streets, the people I was close to couldn’t help. I was hurt.”
Like all of us, he wasn’t used to not having a place to stay and missed the comfort of a home. He never thought he’d become ‘one of those’ homeless people you see on the street.
“I’m suddenly on the streets on my own.” He became a different person when he didn’t know where he was going to sleep at night. Basic survival instincts kicked in. He felt poor – not in the financial sense, but within himself. Lonely, he started to read about the experiences of other people experiencing homelessness.
“All I could think was ‘this is not me – not who I am.” He went to his local council but they couldn’t help – he was still listed as living in the house he shared with his ex-wife.
Frank tried to find a flat for himself, but it was ‘soul destroying’– they were all too expensive. One of the flats he viewed was over £1,000-per-month in rent, and it didn’t even have a toilet.
A friend paid for him to be put up in a lodging for two nights which gave Frank the chance to collect his thoughts. His girlfriend recommended he get in touch with Glass Door – she said ‘they’d be able to help’. He visited one of our partner day centres in Chelsea and had a hot meal. He was linked with a Glass Door Caseworker, Andrew, who provided advice and support, and most crucially, time and a space to talk; one of the most traumatic aspects of homelessness is the loneliness.
“Andrew gave me the direction I needed to work on myself.” A room became available in Glass Door’s hostel project and Frank moved in. In the hostel he could still access consistent advice and support and had the warmth and security of his own room. Finally living in safe accommodation meant he could focus on himself, not just survival – he stopped smoking, saved up money, started eating nutritious food and established a healthy routine. He began writing and built a ritual of self-improvement, focusing on his strengths and building his confidence.
Today, he has his own flat and can live independently. He has started to rebuild his relationship with his estranged family, taking it one day at a time. Next month he’s fulfilling a lifelong dream of travelling to Rwanda.
“Security is not being dependent on someone else. This is what I needed.”
Through LHA’s ongoing partnership with Beam, www.beam.org 140 homeless people have been supported into stable work and housing – allowing them to leave homelessness for good. You can see LHA’s dedicated impact page on Beam’s website, which showcases the stories of people who have been supported: https://beam.org/eWL1Y9n
One person who has benefitted from LHA funding is 25-year-old Detta, who was referred to Beam by Islington Council in early 2022. Detta became homeless when her dad kicked her out and she ended up in temporary accommodation. Beam helped Detta fundraise £1,931 from 18 supporters – including LHA – to fund a rental deposit, first month’s rent, moving van and housing essentials. With Beam’s support, Detta move into a property in April 2022 and since then her life has been completely transformed.
Detta shared this update with her Beam supporters: “Through your donations I have been able to secure a better home and continue working towards getting a better and greater place to call home!” Read the full update.
LHA supports Bromley & Croydon Womens Aid through the ‘LHA Fund’. Through this support BCWA were able to help Karla. Karla was encouraged by her nurse to get in touch with Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid (BCWA) for support. When assessed by a BCWA outreach team member, Karla scored a medium risk and reported incidents of domestic abuse including threats, jealousy/control, use of objects to hurt her and strangulation in the past. Sadly, Karla had normalised a lot of the abusive behaviour she had experienced before she started working with BCWA’s Young People’s service.
Despite initially stating that she did not want to report her experience of domestic abuse, Karla was supported to feel confident to work with the police should she change her mind and was provided with a safety plan by her outreach officer to protect herself and her young child. This proved to be a life-line when the perpetrator and his new partner assaulted her outside her mother’s home.
Karla’s outreach officer connected her with a housing options worker in Bromley and helped her to fill in a homelessness application and understand the housing options available for her. Within a week she moved out of the borough to a safe location unknown to the perpetrator or his family. Additionally, as BCWA works closely with other local organisations, Karla’s outreach officer was able to refer her to Bromley Brighter Beginnings for the donation of essential household items (bedding, crockery, a kettle, etc) which the council could not provide when she was moving home.
In addition to the practical advice provided by BCWA’s Young People’s Service, Karla was given emotional support and a platform to talk about her concerns and process the major changes in her life. Karla reported that the ‘Empowerment workshops’ run by BCWA were a pivotal moment in her journey to recovery helping to increase her self-confidence and be inspired about future career paths. When Karla first started working with BCWA, she reported that she felt low and continuously anxious but with the help of her outreach officer, she saw an improvement in her general wellbeing upon exiting the service.
LHA has supported Cardinal Hume www.cardinalhumecentre.org.uk for several years through the LHA Fund, Mohsen’s story is one of many. At 15 years old, Mohsen fled a militia attack on his village in Sudan, what followed was two years of imprisonment and abuse before he finally arrived in London, alone, in February 2020.
In London, Mohsen was moved into supported accommodation and began building a life for himself in the UK. He was referred to the Cardinal Hume Centre for English Language Support and began working with English Tutor, Jenny. Mohsen worked hard on his English language skills and computer basics to get himself ready for college. At the beginning of this year, Jenny helped him prepare for his exams and he passed his Level One Functional Skills English and Maths.
Mohsen is passionate about cars and has a dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. In the Spring, he went on to pass his Mechanical Engineering Level One, as well as his driving theory test – all in English of course!
Recognising his commitment to become a mechanical engineer, Jenny referred Mohsen to Sarah, an Employment Specialist at the Cardinal Hume Centre. Sarah began working with Mohsen, to develop his employment plan and look at his training options. As it can be difficult to find work experience in this field, Sarah researched different organisations to find the right opportunity for Mohsen.
Then in the Spring, Sarah introduced Mohsen to the First Steps Trust (a charity providing for people excluded from working life) which offered Mohsen work experience in a garage as well as training in motor vehicle mechanics. Sarah says: “We (the employment team) take a person centred approach to supporting young people on their employment journey. We work with them to make sure that they gain the right skills and experience to move closer to a sustainable job. Mohsen is so driven and determined to become a mechanical engineer; it was wonderful to help him move one step closer to his dream career.”
Mohsen was extremely excited about this opportunity, he said: ‘It was really cool! The team was really helpful, I do love it and am very excited to start with them in the school holidays.’
Another beneficiary of the LHA Fund is Refugees at Home www.refugeesathome.org . Refugees at Home host Alban and his guest, Dmytro are celebrating Ukrainian Independence Day at Alban’s flat in Wimbledon. The Ukrainian flag hangs proudly out of the window as the two express gleeful proclamations of “Slava Ukraini!” – the Ukrainian official salute.
Dmytro hails from the Luhansk region but moved to Kyiv over ten years ago. After leaving Ukraine in February, he spent time in Turkey and Poland before arriving in London. As an entrepreneur in marketing and tech, Dmytro says, “I understood that the most effective way for me to help my country is in volunteering informationally.”
Despite being over a thousand miles away, Dmytro says, “I feel in some ways even more connected to Ukraine. I can help by talking about Ukraine and help form stronger relationships between our countries.”
Dmytro has a weekly call to touch base with his Grandparents, who are still in the Luhansk region, his uncle, who is fighting in the army, and his parents in Warsaw. “After the war began, Ukrainians became closer, more interconnected and in our family, we feel it. We talk and support each other more”, he explains.
The flat feels like a true celebration of merging cultures as Alban brings out strawberries and cream and Dmytro offers up a bowl of Ukrainian sweets. Dmytro points out that Alban is wearing Vyshyvanka, a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt, sent to Alban as a gift from Dmytro’s mother.
Although, Dmytro’s attempts to introduce Alban to Ukrainian culture haven’t always gone to plan. “I once cooked Alban syrniki – a traditional Ukrainian dish – but I’m a terrible cook”, Dmytro admits as he expresses his hope that his mother can come and make it properly.
Dmytro and Alban’s sarcastic and playful repartee quickly gives away the close bond they share. It would be easy to assume they’d known each-other for years. Humour is at the centre of their friendship, which Dmytro believes is a cultural similarity between Ukrainians and Brits. “Sarcasm and irony has helped Ukrainians during these hard times and the British people have that also”, Dmytro says.
It just so happens that Dmytro and Alban share an encyclopedic knowledge of British comedy, discovering their mutual love for Dylan Moran in the pub on the first evening they met. They’ve since been to see him live at the Apollo.
In fact, they’ve engaged in a litany of activities together since Dmytro moved in. From watching the tennis at Wimbledon to Thursday night theatre nights to catching Top Gun 2 at the cinema. And of course, visiting a selection of Alban’s favourite pubs to watch Spurs. (Alban informs me that part of his inspiration to host was hearing that Gary Linekar had done so.) Although Dmytro hasn’t had any luck convincing Alban to join his yoga community.
“I fell in love with the UK. In my experience, the people I’ve met here are great”, says Dmytro.
“Dmytro has been fantastic to live with”, Alban says. “I’ve lived in this place on my own for almost two decades and I was utterly terrified about sharing it” he continues. But it’s clear this meeting of minds has been a brilliant experience for them both.
And it wouldn’t be a true celebration without a toast with the Ukrainian cheers, “budmo!”, which translates to ‘let us be’, a fitting nod to the solidarity and resilience at the core of Ukrainian culture, that is so vital to celebrate as the war continues.
LHA London has worked closely with Spires www.spires.org.uk for many years through the LHA Fund. One of their beneficiaries is Grant. Grant is a 24-year-old British male who was rough sleeping on Streatham Common and was referred to Spires from Streatham Job Centre. He was incarcerated for 2 weeks after a domestic disturbance with his uncle in the family home. On his release he had lost all his support network as there has been a complete breakdown of the family relationship with him.
Z2K were supported by LHA London through the LHA Fund and as a result were able to help Yasmin.
Z2k received a referral from St John’s Hospice for a 20-year-old whose father had recently passed away. The hospice had arranged for Yasmin* to move into a housing association tenancy in a one-bedroom flat by herself. Yasmin was a college student who was working part-time and claiming Universal Credit. She was struggling to manage the cost of her rent alongside other essential expenses such as bills and student resources.
Following the referral, Z2K caseworkers reviewed Yasmin’s Universal Credit statements. They found that the housing element of her Universal Credit payments was subject to an £80/month deduction due to having a spare bedroom, otherwise known as the “bedroom tax”. However, the client lived in a one-bedroom flat with no extra bedroom, meaning the deduction had been misapplied.
Z2K supported Yasmin in highlighting this mistake in her Universal Credit journal, but DWP refused to change the client’s benefit award, despite Z2K following up on this on multiple occasions. Z2K then supported Yasmin in lodging an official complaint about the DWP’s mistake. Following this, the DWP finally admitted their error and cancelled the £80/month deduction applied to Yasmin’s Universal Credit award. They also agreed to pay Yasmin £730 to cover the historic payments she had missed due to the mistake.
As a result of Z2K’s interventions, we identified the source of the client’s financial difficulties and resolved the issue by supporting her in challenging the DWP. Had Z2K not intervened at this early stage, Yasmin would have continued to have £80/month deducted from her payments, which could have resulted in the client building up substantial rent arrears, with a risk of becoming homeless. Yasmin can now better manage her finances but also has more space to focus on her studies while coming to terms with her family loss.