Monday 1 November 2010 5.12pm
I heard on Friday that St. Mungo's largest project, the Cedars Rd. hostel in Clapham, is in danger of being closed by Lambeth Council
. And in the meantime the council's considering a proposal to cut the services the hostel currently offers. The public consultation period is minuscule and any comments need to be in by Nov 5th. This isn't strictly about SE1 but it'll certainly affect us, so I hope James won't object to my posting about it.
Cedars Rd. is home for up to 120 residents, an important part of the current mix of services in the borough, and well equipped to support people with complex needs. Over a recent eighteen month period more than 90 people were helped to make positive moves out of it into supported housing or a place of their own.
If the current proposal's approved, the range of support services provided there, (eg. drug and alcohol treatment, support with mental health issues and help to find a job) will be gone. There's ample evidence that without such services many re-housed people whose original homelessness arose out of particular difficulties in their lives prove unable to cope. As a result they simply return to the streets. So any re-housing provision which fails also to ensure the support services currently provided by St Mungo's will be wasteful of public resources. In economic terms this will be measurable waste. In human terms it'll be incalculable. And we'll see it on our streets.
The current proposal risks leaving the borough without adequate accommodation for the people who need it, and the loss of Cedars Rd. would affect not only Lambeth's homeless but also rough sleepers across London, including, obviously, SE1. If its services must be cut and/or it really has to be closed then, if nothing else, Lambeth council should consult in depth with St Mungo's about alternatives. I've written to the council leader, Steve Reed, and the Divisional Director of Strategy and Commissioning, Adult and Community Services, at Phoenix House 10, Wandworth Rd, SW8 2LL. If anyone else wants to comment as part of the consultation process, time's running out.