17 October 2019

The Mayor of London has announced a new £2.35m scheme to support people with mental health needs sleeping rough in the capital.

The two year pilot aims to ensure that mental health and homelessness services work in collaboration to deliver better outcomes for people sleeping rough and learn from each other’s expertise. Four trusts that provide mental health care will be delivering the services:

Ourselves, East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT),
North East London NHS Foundation trust (NELFT),
Central and North West London Foundation NHS Trust (CNWL)
West London NHS Trust (WLT)

Last year, half of all people sleeping rough in London were recorded as having mental health needs, but many do not have access to the specialist support and treatment they need. Co-ordinated by Imperial College Health Partners, supported by UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network, the two-year project will test how new collaborative ways of working can provide targeted support and help people leave the streets for good. 

Joint Working

Dedicated teams of mental health practitioners from NHS trusts involved will join outreach workers on the streets from organisations such as St Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Single Homeless Project (SHP). The teams could also include specialist input from a psychologist, psychiatrist or peer support worker. They will provide people sleeping rough with flexible, accessible mental health support, which better understands their needs and ensures they receive the appropriate assessment and treatment.

Edwin Ndlovu, Director for Mental Health Services in Tower Hamlets, said, "This money will enable us to set up specialist teams with the voluntary sector in all our areas to really address the needs of the people we see all too often in our boroughs. Such interventions will be a stepping stone to understanding what has happened to individuals and what treatment, care and support they need to move forward. It will mean that homeless people get quick and timely access to mental health and social care support."

Mayor of London: "It's a Scandal."

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “We will continue to do everything we can to help rough we can to help rough sleepers off the streets of London, including doubling City Hall’s outreach team and opening new shelters. To go further, this new pilot will ensure dedicated mental health professionals can provide specialist support to people on the streets who need it the most.

“It’s a scandal how many people living rough on the streets are suffering severe mental ill health. I have been consistently clear that the Government must stop ignoring the root causes of homelessness and urgently invest far more in the services we need to truly end homelessness, and that includes mental health care."
Christine Norman, Innovation Delivery Manager, Imperial College Health Partners said: “We’re excited to be working with the Mayor on this programme. It’s an opportunity to support partners from across the system, including NHS trusts and outreach teams, to work together to ensure rough sleepers have better access to specialist mental health support.”
Kath Sims, Head of Outreach at St Mungo’s, said: “Poor mental health can be a cause and a consequence of people sleeping rough. What’s vital is getting people the support they need at the right time. Partnerships such as these are important in helping people move away from the streets long term so they can move forward with their lives.” 

Making Homelessness a Priority

Tackling homelessness is one of the Mayor’s top priorities and this year City Hall has doubled its budget for pan-London rough sleeping services from £8.5 million to at least £18 million. Last year, the Mayor’s commissioned services supported more than 3,500 rough sleepers off the streets, and helped a further 1924 people at risk of returning to rough sleeping. The Mayor also hailed Londoners’ generosity earlier this year after they raised a record £247,000 for vital services in response to his winter rough sleeping campaign. Funding for the new pilot will be awarded to the four mental health trusts to specialist services which have been co-designed with local outreach teams and the 16 local authorities covered by the project. The Mayor has allocated £1.25million to the pilot, with £1.1million provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Statistics on Rough Sleeping

The data on people sleeping rough in London recorded as having mental health needs is reported in the annual CHAIN stats:

https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/chain-reports (Page 31 in the 18/19 full report).

This is a two year pilot which aims to ensure that mental health and homelessness services work in collaboration to deliver better outcomes for people sleeping rough and learn from each other’s expertise. There will be a strong focus on evaluating the project to better understand what works and how provision can be further improved in the future.

Imperial College Health Partners are coordinating the project, supported by UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network. More information can be found here:

To read the Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Plan of Action, visit:

For more information on the Mayor’s rough sleeping campaign, visit: