In 1969 a group of people decided to do something to help the people they saw sleeping rough on the streets of London. They started by going out, talking to people, offering food and what assistance they could.
As they did this more often, people started asking who they were, where they were from. One of the group's main volunteers was from Glasgow, whose patron saint is Saint Kentigern. Saint Kentigern is patron saint of the city and of wandering Celts - and is also known as "St Mungo". The group thought "a Christian saint's name would stop police hassling workers on soup runs - they thought they were reverends." From there, the group managed to secure their first hostel to accommodate people sleeping rough – a former Marmite factory in Vauxhall, south London.
In the years since, St Mungo’s has continued working to end homelessness and has been on the frontline of delivering services to keep people healthy, housed and hopeful. St Mungo’s pioneered many of the innovative services that are now part of homelessness sector practice and projects, including the first specialist project solely for people sleeping rough with a mental illness; the first specialist project solely for people sleeping rough with a history of alcohol misuse; the only specialist project solely for older people with a long history of rough sleeping and, more recently, the first Recovery College in the homelessness sector.
Each night across England more than 4,000 people sleep rough on the streets: people in need of shelter, support and the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
At St Mungo’s we believe that homelessness and rough sleeping aren’t inevitable. Through our recovery based approach, we help people experiencing homelessness on every step of their journey towards rebuilding their lives.