Croydon Council tonight (5 December) celebrated a prestigious award for a ground-breaking project that has helped thousands of families and individuals at risk of homelessness.
Mayor of Croydon Cllr Wayne Trakas-Lawlor welcomed the recognition for Croydon’s pioneering Gateway service, which won a top prize in the London Homelessness Awards.
When it first launched last year, Croydon’s Gateway division became the first combined council department in the country – covering housing, benefits, debt management and social care assessment – to support families affected by the Government welfare reforms like the benefit cap and universal credit.
To date the project has helped more than 1,000 families avoid homelessness, 5,400 people to become more financially independent, and over 600 into employment.
Speaking at the meeting, Croydon’s Mayor praised staff for their dedication to supporting families in needs, and said:
“I’m delighted to announce that Croydon was recently bestowed with this prestigious award in recognition for the extraordinary work undertaken by the Gateway team. Croydon are the first council in five years to even make it into the final, let alone come second, so this is fantastic recognition of how Croydon really is leading the way in preventing homelessness across local authorities.”
Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, Mayor of Croydon.
Gateway works by identifying households most at risk of homelessness, providing them with a dedicated adviser and then helping them to better manage their finances, maximise their income and widen their career options through extra training.
The project was one of only three entries to win a cash prize, with stiff competition from innovative projects across the capital. Croydon’s Gateway project was awarded second place, winning £15,000 which will be used to expand the neighbourhood service and help more families in need.
The London Homelessness Awards are sponsored by the London Housing Foundation, charities Crisis and Shelter and the London Housing Directors. They recognise innovative and sustainable solutions to homelessness and are open to all projects in London working for at least six months in the field of homelessness. This includes registered social landlords, local councils, London NHS and health-related organisations, voluntary organisations, or a partnership.
The letter to Mark Fowler, Croydon Council’s director of Gateway and Welfare, said judges were ‘very impressed with the commitment shown by you and your team working on this service, and that other councils should follow Croydon’s approach.’
This is not the first time the Gateway project has been commended for its approach. Previously MPs on the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Select Committee praised Gateway’s work as a “revolution in local government” during a visit to Croydon Council.
For more information on The London Homelessness Awards and the winning projects visit The London Housing Foundation webpage.