St Mungo's and the City of London - The Lodge
The Lodge was developed as a response to service users who said traditional hostel settings were intrusive, overwhelming and chaotic. Instead, The Lodge provides a 3 star hotel-style accommodation service designed to address the needs of London’s most entrenched rough sleepers. Light-touch staffing and support ensure that guests feel valued, trusted and encouraged to take advantage of training and personal development opportunities at their own pace.
Runner up 2011: received £10,000 prize money
We caught up with St Mungo's in May 2012 for an update on their plans for the 2011 prize money. "We are planning to use the £10,000 prize money to fund a ‘Lodge 2’ comprising move-on accommodation from the Lodge. Many of the Lodge guests have slept rough in the City, and there will be a benefit if we can keep Lodge 2 close to the main Lodge. We aim to have Lodge 2 up and running within the next three years." Hayley Gullen, St Mungo's
Despite admitting that he’s just out of the shower at 3pm, Keith is clearly a man that takes pride in his appearance. Wearing a black trilby, and with two bright studs piercing his lower mouth, Keith is keen to dismiss the stereotype that all homeless people are scruffy and unclean.
“Even when I was out on the street I always looked smart, I was always clean shaven and had my hair cut.” And while drink and drugs binges used to be a problem for the 45 year-old, nowadays his vices stretch about as far as the local fast food restaurants. “I’m trying to lose a bit of weight” he admits. “I was 10 stone when I came here in June last year, and now I’m 13 stone 8!”
Keith currently lives at The Lodge, an innovative hotel-style hostel housing 40 guests that, since opening in March 2010, has successfully pulled in 33 of the ‘205’ group, those rough sleepers that have been on London’s streets the longest.
With 22 inch plasma screen TVs, complimentary toiletries, room cleaning and smart décor throughout, The Lodge looks more like a boutique B&B than a hostel. “This was like walking into a hotel” explains Keith, who jumped at the chance to move in after hearing positive things from others on the streets. “It’s not like a normal hostel. It’s quiet and everyone gets on with each other. If you’ve got problems, the staff are here to help you, but otherwise they leave you alone.”
With an en-suite room on the fifth floor, Keith also believes his own front door has made a positive difference. “When you’re out on the streets, walking round with your cardboard under your arm, it’s tough. Having my own key makes me feel whole again.”
Keith is no stranger to new homes. Growing up with his parents and three sisters, the family moved from place to place, taking in Kentish Town, Cleveland, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Harlow.“ Moving around was the norm for us. We’d stay in one place for two or three years and then move on. We even lived in a caravan, although one day I came home from school and all that was left of it was a pile of ash. Apparently my dad lit the gas stove and it went up in smoke. There was a leak in it or something. We only managed to save a telly and a few coins.
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