5 August 2021

In a year with many challenges, Glass Door managed to keep its doors open throughout the pandemic and supported more people out of homelessness than ever before.

The charity’s 2020-2021 annual report, published this week, tells the story of how staff, partners and volunteers shifted ways of working to allow people experiencing homelessness to continue to find a safe place to stay, to enjoy hot meals and to access advice to move off the streets.

In March 2020, guests of the charity’s night shelters were some of the first to be moved into hotels at the start of the government’s Everyone In scheme, which ultimately supported 37,500 people into temporary accommodation during the pandemic, according to the government’s latest figures. But many people remained on the street and many others became newly homeless, leaving the charity determined to stay open.  Recalls Lucy Horitz, Glass Door’s CEO:

Our staff knew their support was needed more than ever, and we found ways to adapt. In a short amount of time, we launched several new programmes.

Over the summer, the charity launched a befriending scheme, handed out mobile phones, and gave out food vouchers to ensure that people could stay connected and could find the food and water they needed. Glass Door adapted, opening a new advice centre in an under-used building close to their Chelsea-based headquarters. Staff met with guests wherever they could to provide advice and support with lost IDs, applications for benefits and the EU Settlement Scheme, housing, jobs and more.

When the government announced in October 2020 that communal night shelters (like the ones Glass Door historically have run) would not be allowed to reopen during the winter, planning was already well under way to open an accommodation project that provided individual rooms for people needing to find a way off the street during the pandemic. 199 individuals found safe a place to stay in these rooms over the winter.

One of the female guests recounted not having taken a shower for two weeks before arriving. She said: 

I sleep for two days non-stop. I don’t know how to thank them.

The charity also launched a COVID-secure community dinner programme, providing hot sit-down meals in four locations across West London every night. Some guests reported walking two hours for what they said was their only meal of the day.

Trained caseworkers were on hand five days a week every week. As a result, 317 individuals were supported to move into longer-term accommodation, more people than in any previous year. 

The services also improved people’s wellbeing. Guests of the accommodation project reported feeling more optimistic, confident, supported, rested, stable and safe during their stay, according to anonymous surveys filled out by guests of the service. Said a male guest in his forties. 

I just want to thank you all for doing this every day and for taking my situation seriously. You’ve helped give me a more positive outlook for the future and it keeps me going.  


Thanks due Gather.London for their pro-bono support to make the report a reality. 

If you'd like to help individuals access vital shelter and support, consider making a regular donation. 

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or join the Sleep Out on 1 October 2021. 

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