Crisis was founded in 1967 in response to the shocking Ken Loach film Cathy Come Home shown the previous year, and a publicity campaign led by reforming Conservatives William Shearman and Ian Macleod highlighting the plight of homeless people.
Since then Crisis has evolved to meet the changing needs of single homeless people, campaigning for change and delivering innovative solutions to help people find a route out of homelessness across the UK.
Responding to change
Over the years the landscape of homelessness has changed. At each stage Crisis has responded with a new focus and new set of services. In 1971 the lack of services for homeless people at Christmas was all too real. In response, Crisis at Christmas was set up. Today it has continued to evolve to meet the needs of over 2,000 homeless people providing companionship and access to vital services and hope for the year ahead.
Throughout the years we have piloted new projects and new ways of working and delivering services. In the 90s we launched WinterWatch, a nationwide programme of winter shelters, Crisis FareShare, which subsequently became its own charity and Crisis SmartMove. Since 1997 Crisis SmartMove has helped house over 12,000 single people.
Project Compass ran from 2003 to 2010 and was created to support ex-Forces personnel, who made up a quarter of all single homeless people, back into stable employment. It placed a spotlight on the challenges facing vulnerable veterans and instigated significant changes within the sector providing more support for those in need through charities and agencies working collaboratively to support the diverse needs of this group.
We have led the way in putting learning and skills development at the heart of the solution to homelessness. In 2002 we established Crisis Skylight, now an award winning education, training and employment centre, flourishing in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, Merseyside, Newcastle and Oxford. Our Crisis Skylight Cafes in London, Newcastle and Oxford are social enterprises that provide real on the job training. Crisis Skylight is recognised as a model of innovative best practice and we have ambitious plans to open a further two centres by 2013.
Crisis merged with Off the Streets and into Work (OSW), a charity specialising in employment solutions for homeless people, on 1 April 2010. The merger significantly enhanced the work of Crisis Skylight London in the employment and skills field.
We continue to develop Crisis Changing Lives, our highly successful grants scheme which helps homeless people achieve their education and career goals and have expanded our range of employment services.
Reliant on the generosity of our donors, we have come up with innovative ways to raise money such as our Crisis Christmas Card Challenge and high profile events including Crisis Consequences, Crisis Hidden Gigs and Crisis Square Mile Run. We are also fortunate in our capacity to call on the help of 10,000 volunteers to support our work throughout the year.
Throughout this time our approach has been informed by research and we have remained determined campaigners. We have not been afraid to challenge Government and society to face up to the human and financial cost of homelessness.
In 2009, along with other leading housing and homelessness charities, we campaigned to make sure private tenants whose landlords' properties were being repossessed could be given decent notice by the court, to give them time to find other accommodation. A new law was passed in April 2010, marking the successful end to the campaign, with an estimated 324,000 tenants at risk getting the protection they needed.
Since the election of the Coalition Government in 2010, we have been campaigning hard against cuts to welfare. We have also commissioned research, the Homelessness Monitor, to track the impact of the cuts up to the next General Election.
We continue to highlight the growing issue of hidden homelessness in the UK and the barriers that homeless people face in trying to transform their lives.
Our No One Turned Away campaign demanded a change in the law so that single homeless people get meaningful advice and assistance and emergency accommodation when they need it. Over 11,000 people signed our petition and, in December 2011, ministers announced £20m of funding to help councils tackle single homelessness. Whilst this is welcome we will continue to call for stronger legal protections for single homeless people.
More than forty years on we remain angry about the scandal of homelessness. We are ambitious to do more for more homeless people in more places across the UK and will continue to campaign to bring about an end to homelessness once and for all.