St Mungo's 'heartless' move could hit homeless, warns union
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Homeless residents to benefit from £5 million Hackney hostel transformation
Homelessness charity St Mungo's has been branded "heartless" after deciding to stop managing a hostel in Hitchin.
Unite, the UK's biggest union, has slammed the move and said that it raises "big questions" about how homeless people in North Hertfordshire will now fare.
The union represents the hostel’s five project workers.
Unite's national officer for the not for profit sector, Sally Kosky, said: “It is unprecedented for St Mungo’s to walk away from a profitable contract. Our concern is for the homeless of Hitchin and the future job security of our members.
“We believe that St Mungo’s has behaved in a heartless fashion and we will be having talks with the relevant local authorities - North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council - to see what plans will be in place to look after the homeless of North Hertfordshire.
“We will be seeking assurances that the hostel continues to provide a fully staffed service for those in need.”
Elizabeth Harper, St Mungo's regional director, said: "St Mungo's began managing the Sanctuary in Hitchin in December 2011 in response to a request from North Herts District Council and the local charity Trustees, owners of the Sanctuary building.
"Since then we have been working to modernise this service for local homeless people from an overnight only service to a 24 hour service, which has involved creating additional jobs and bringing in new shift patterns for the staff team.
"Unfortunately, the plans to acquire and modernise the building have fallen through. Following a Board review in November, and discussions with the local council, we have therefore given notice to the funders that we will be withdrawing from managing the Sanctuary service on 31 March 2014.
"We are consulting the project staff team about the implications for them. We will continue to manage another five bed supported housing scheme in the Hitchin and to talk further with commissioners about the needs of single homeless people in the area."