London’s vital first 24/7 drop-in centre for homeless women opens


inger Ellie Goulding today helped open central London’s first 24-hour homeless women’s drop-in centre, which was paid for by generous donations from Evening Standard readers.

The Sanctuary in West London offers a range of services from medical care to job skills as well as legal advice and emergency beds for women with nowhere to go.

Its opening marked the culmination of the Evening Standard’s Homeless Fund, which was launched by the Standard’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev and run in association with our sister title The Independent.

For the last two years it has supported homelessness projects across the capital, including by funding a new women’s development unit, psychotherapy support for the homeless and the training of charity staff on how to deal with domestic abuse.


Ellie Goulding opening central London’s first 24-hour homeless women’s drop-in centre

/ Matt Writtle

It also supported a homeless women’s action group based in Newham and financed the creation of the London Homeless Collective, which for the first time has brought the capital’s homelessness charities together to share expertise.

Goulding, who is patron of the Marylebone Project, which runs the Sanctuary, said: “We need more places like this where vulnerable women can come and feel safe and feel like they have a place to rebuild and re-skill and get themselves back together.

“As someone who believes in the power of women I jumped at the chance to come here and was just blown away by the generosity and time the staff give these women and the activities and care and love they get.

“You can feel the calm and that it is a safe place to be.”

The project has been able to offer the round the clock service due to our Homeless Fund, which included a generous financial donation made by Barclays to enable the expansion to occur.

Ellie Goulding meets Peter Rouch, head of the Marylebone Project

/ Matt Writtle

Hannah Bernard, the Head of Business Banking at Barclays, attended the opening ceremony and said that seeing the expanded drop in centre in operation had been “a humbling experience”.

She said: “It’s hard to imagine the challenges they have faced, which have only been exacerbated during the pandemic.

“The visit has made me immensely proud we have partnered with the Evening Standard’s Homeless Fund to support this fantastic centre through our £100 million Covid-19 Community Aid Package. I’d like to thank all of those at The Sanctuary who are working tirelessly to support women in the local community.”

The Sanctuary’s General Manager Phillippa Middleton said being able to offer a round the clock service was vital for homeless women, who previously had no specialist centre to go during night-time if they were looking for support.

Ellie Goulding with The Sanctuary’s General Manager Phillippa Middleton

/ Matt Writtle

She said: “Homelessness and domestic violence happen at any time of the day or night.

“What we were was 9am to 1230 and Monday to Friday. But it can happen at any time to anyone. Now someone can walk in at any hour and get help and that’s what makes it unique.”

The Homeless Fund was launched at Christmas 2019. It went on to raise over £1m due to support from Evening Standard and Independent readers, which has since been distributed to homeless causes across London.

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