Westminster Abbey supports The Passage to prevent street homelessness

10th May 2024

Westminster Abbey has made a donation of £500,000 to leading homelessness charity The Passage to support its innovative homelessness prevention scheme, No Night Out.

Westminster Abbey supports The Passage to prevent street homelessness

The donation has been made possible thanks to the Abbey’s recovering visitor numbers following the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing it to offer more substantial support to one of its longest-standing charity partners.

For over 40 years, The Passage has played a pivotal role in supporting those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in London.

In the last year, The Passage supported over 2,100 people and served over 34,500 hot meals to those visiting their Resource Centre in Victoria.

Working in the heart of Westminster as a close neighbour to the Abbey, it offers its service users the resources to prevent and end their homelessness for good, including routes to employment, benefits, and stable accommodation.

The No Night Out scheme was developed following the pandemic when The Passage identified an effective working model – moving people into emergency accommodation during the ‘Everyone In’ initiative.

For those who are at risk of spending their first night on the streets, The Passage offers temporary accommodation whilst their Resettlement Teams work to provide tailored, one-to-one support to move them into safe and sustainable housing.

No Night Out has proven to be highly successful since launching in 2022, with 196 people prevented from spending their first night out on the streets. Of that number, 13 people needed further intervention to stay in accommodation, only 5 of which remain on the street.

With official figures revealing that 4,118 people slept rough on the streets of London recently*, and over 2,000 individuals doing so for the very first time, the funding from Westminster Abbey has come at a crucial time.

The partnership will not only enable The Passage to continue its vital work – intervening before people reach crisis point – it will also promote best practice to be shared across London, with The Passage working closely with the Mayor of London’s office, local authorities, and charitable organisations to encourage others to adopt the No Night Out approach.

Outcomes and learnings from the project will also be shared with HRH The Prince of Wales and the Royal Foundation’s Homewards programme – to which The Passage is a sector partner – with training and advice provided to each of the Homewards locations across the UK.

Visiting The Passage’s Resource Centre, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, said:

‘It is a privilege to be able to support the focussed and dedicated work that is done by The Passage. Homelessness plunges too many people into crisis and anxiety too often. Here is a project that will make the difference that is needed’.

Mick Clarke, Chief Executive of The Passage, said:

‘The Passage is immensely grateful to Westminster Abbey for their incredibly generous donation as well as their ongoing commitment to our vital work. In 21st century Britain, nobody should ever have to spend a night on the streets. At a time when the number of people who are becoming street homeless is continuing to rise in all parts of the UK and most acutely here in the capital, our partnership with the Abbey and their support for our ground-breaking No Night Out scheme will help The Passage to give hope to those who thought all hope was lost.’

Westminster Abbey is committed to an active programme of social engagement, working with marginalised communities locally, nationally and internationally.

This commitment has seen the Abbey and The Passage work together closely over a number of years. Abbey staff have volunteered at the charity’s Resource Centre, and Passage clients are regularly welcomed on visits to the Abbey. A fundraising carol service and a summer garden party are also held at the Abbey each year.

Among other social engagement initiatives, the Abbey supported visits for 743 young people and 569 adults in the last financial year, working with groups such as Scouts and Guides, children’s centres, youth groups, refugee groups and The Prince’s Trust. A new charity is also named each month to be the recipient of collections taken at services. The charities are chosen to align with the Abbey’s grant-making policy and social engagement work.