Top award for groundbreaking council department tackling homelessness

 

A Croydon Council initiative that has helped thousands of people at risk of homelessness has been named one of three winners ahead of an awards ceremony celebrating the best projects in London.

When it 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 Government welfare reforms like the benefit cap and universal credit.

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.

So far, the scheme has helped more than 1,000 families avoid homelessness, 5,400 people to become more financially independent, and got 587 into employment.

Now the council has been told it will get one of the top three places in the London Homelessness Awards, which recognise “innovative and sustainable” approaches to either helping people who are homeless or stopping more people becoming homeless.

The award letter to Mark Fowler, Croydon Council’s director of gateway and welfare, read: “I’m pleased to say that the judging panel has decided that Croydon’s People’s Gateway project is one of the three winning projects in this year’s London Homelessness Awards and is in line to receive one of the three financial awards in October. The judges were very impressed with the commitment shown by you and your team working on this service.”

The award comes after 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 in December.

“Gateway is a superb example of how this council improves the lives of Croydon families who need our help, so I’m really pleased it’s getting wider recognition.

“I am very proud of our staff who give families real financial breathing space so they can pay their bills and then get support to feel more confident and boost their job prospects. We’ve had great feedback from people we’ve helped, and we’re already exploring ways of broadening the joined-up Gateway approach to support homeless people with more complex needs.”

Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning

The London Homelessness Awards 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 winner at this October’s awards ceremony, whose sponsors include charities Crisis and Shelter, will receive £30,000, while the two other winners share £25,000.

For a list of the shortlisted entries in The London Homelessness Awards – in memory of Andy Ludlow, visit the London Councils website.

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