St. Martins Housing Trust

December 2021 Cause for the month information St Martins Housing Trust

St Martins is the largest homelessness charity in Norfolk and has been working for nearly 50 years to support people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness.

The Covid 19 pandemic caused serious challenges to everybody, from business and education to health services and the charity sector. It is hard to think of anything positive in relation to the virus other than the response to the request made at the end of March 2020 to ‘get everybody in’. What was previously thought impossible was achieved practically overnight; people sleeping rough were offered accommodation immediately. In Norwich, along with their partners, St Martins supported 120 people in emergency hotel accommodation during the Covid crisis.

Many of those people are now in secure and permanent accommodation.

The need for St Martins’ services continues into 2022 and there is a real desire to ‘keep everybody in’ and continue to support people to live independent and fulfilling lives.

More people at risk of losing their jobs and homes means that St Martins services are needed now more than ever.

St Martins leads the Pathways service in Norwich offering support and accommodation to people sleeping rough. The charity also runs two residential care homes, two hostels, a learning and development centre as well as supporting people living in the community.


General Information

Their website states that the Trust’s mission is: “…to address the needs of homeless people in Norwich.  We offer emergency direct access accommodation, residential care, support and development to enable everyone to achieve their full potential and a greater level of independence.”

They aim to “provide food shelter and accommodation in the county of Norfolk for poor people having no other residence or the place to sleep…”

Our candlelit carol service, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day offerings also go to this worthy cause.

Further information about the Trust from their website:

St Martins Housing Trust started life as the Norwich Night Shelter Project.  The original Night Shelter at St James Church on Barrack Street opened in 1972 in response to the growing problem of homelessness in Norwich.  In spite of the very basic amenities, the Night Shelter was in ever increasing demand, and within a few years new premises were needed to cope with the swelling number of Night Shelter users.  In 1976, the Shelter relocated to St Martin at Oak, a redundant church on Oak Street.  From this point on the Trust developed a wide range of complementary

services that responded to the needs and expectations of homeless people.  In April 2002 the Night Shelter was replaced by Bishopbridge House at Gas Hill, off Riverside Road, Norwich.- a new, purpose-built Direct Access and Resettlement Hostel which provides accommodation for people who have been “on the streets.”

The trust also operates:

* Highwater House, a registered care-home, for people with mental-health problems and alcohol/drug dependency

* Carrow Hill Home, providing care and support for people with mental-health problems, Group homes  – A number of shared houses, which act as a stepping-stone towards independent accommodation.

* Contact, Assessment & Prevention Service  (CAPS) – provides ongoing support and assistance to address the difficulties faced by people who are either sleeping rough or in insecure accommodation and at risk of becoming homeless. This work includes a one night a week street-based shift that makes direct contact with rough sleepers in the city.

* Temporary Accommodation Project (TAP)  – started as a pilot project in 2001, and now manages temporary accommodation on behalf of Norwich City Council for single homeless people whose homelessness applications are being investigated.  The accommodation is in shared houses and is a more homely alternative to bed and breakfast.  It also gives the Trust the opportunity to work with the individual on an appropriate support package for both the immediate and longer term.

* Under-1-Roof – The Trust’s training, education and employment preparation centre opened in February 2010, providing a welcoming environment for our service users where they can take part in training tailored to their specific needs by established local training providers.

* LEAP – Norwich City Council and St Martins Housing Trust’s Learning Employment Accommodation project (LEAP) is a very special service providing employment, education, training and accommodation opportunities.

More information can be found n the website:

Letter from the Director of St Martin’s Housing Trust to members of Ipswich Road URC December 2021

Helping the homeless build a better life in Norwich and Norfolk

2021 – it’s been quite a year at St Martins

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to contribute to your newsletter/website. As you would expect it has been an interesting and challenging year for us. Most of the early part of the year was focused upon making sure everyone we support and all of our team members were well and safe. To date we have not had any outbreaks of covid which we’re really pleased about. It shows all of our hard work in relation to infection prevention and control is working. We’ll be keeping that up for as long as we need to.

Due to the support of local people, all of the hard work here and the incredible efforts of our partners I’m pleased to report that the number of people on our streets continues to decrease. This is also in part due to our new emergency assessment and accommodation hub on Recorder Rd. This unit is now supporting around 55 people every quarter. It gets people the help and support they need quickly before their rough sleeping habits become entrenched and it moves them into more secure and permanent accommodation very quickly. This service has been a life line for many.

All of our other services are also working well. We continue to be graded outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at Highwater House, our residential home. All of our hostels are busy and people continue to be supported to make plans for the future. Our community work helps people to manage their tenancies and live in their homes thereby reducing pressure on our crisis services. At any one time St Martins is supporting in the region of 300 people.

2022 is our 50th anniversary and we will be marking all of the hard work which has gone on over the last 50 years. There will be a number of events taking place across Norwich throughout the year. These events will conclude next October with a formal fundraising dinner, auction and awards event. We are currently seeking auction prizes; the kind of things money can’t buy; all ideas or offers will be gratefully received.

I’d like to conclude by thanking you all for your support. We could not do our work without your support. It means a great deal to us and the people who use our services.

Dr Jan Sheldon