Spotlight on... St Mungo's

Empowering people recovering from homelessness through a programme of online learning.

While our VocTech Activate grant fund is open for applications, we're taking the opportunity to look back at organisations already using Ufi grant funding to improve skills for work and get adults learning.

If you're inspired by their story and have your own idea of how technology can solve a vocational learning problem, why not bring it to life with our VocTech Activate grant fund. Applications close on 31 January 2024.

----

People recovering from homelessness need opportunities to develop skills for independent living, progress through supported housing services, and to sustain independent accommodation in the future. Current support provision can be very varied, and people in this situation may have very complex needs which can make traditional learning models challenging to engage with. 

St Mungo’s is a leading homelessness charity, working across London and the South of England. In 2022, they delivered 180 services, supporting almost 25,000 people. St Mungo’s delivers supported housing, outreach services working with rough sleepers, floating support, and client training to meet these needs. Their common purpose is client recovery from homelessness and progression towards independent living – on their clients’ own terms, and based on their individual needs and ambitions. These transformational outcomes are driven by meaningful relationships with dedicated ‘lead workers’.

Digital learning in this context comes with specific challenges. 47% of St Mungo’s clients report being “not very” or “not at all confident” with their IT skills. Access to digital devices and connectivity is low. Many clients struggle to engage with any formal learning.



Many clients struggle to engage with any formal learning.


To help tackle the skills challenges faced by people recovering from homelessness, St Mungo’s embarked upon an ambitious project to revolutionise their support offering. The aim of St Mungo’s project was to research, develop and concept-test a prototype for a digital learning platform which clients and lead workers can use together.

To make this project a success, St Mungo’s knew that the involvement of clients and lead workers was essential. Over 70 clients, 150 client-facing St Mungo’s staff and stakeholders took part in the project research.

The charity's early research and testing findings were exceptionally positive. They found that digital learning proved both viable and invaluable for their clients. An impressive 80% of surveyed clients would recommend the programme to others. Learners revelled in the power of learning on their own terms, with one client remarking, "I feel empowered”.

The project found that by enabling clients to learn on their own terms, they completed courses feeling more empowered. Additionally, lead workers saw that the positive experiences help clients gain digital confidence and trust of digital tools. This matches the latest findings from the Adult Participation in Learning Survey 2023, and our work on the VocTech Challenge: Levelling up learning.

Untitled design (15)

During their project supported by Ufi, St Mungo’s have created a digital learning platform and skills programme that brings more structure and resources to their lead workers, and empowers their clients to achieve greater independence.

The platform encourages vocational skills-building through online courses, tuition and independent learning, all guided by a client’s lead worker. The platform is designed to enable clients and lead workers to accurately plan for introducing move-on from homelessness services and next steps at the right time.

St Mungo’s plans to develop the project during 2024 with the aim of increasing the reach of their services and continuing to uplift their clients’ lives.

Grant funding from Ufi

Ufi partially funded the St Mungo's project in 2021 through the VocTech Activate grant fund, previously known as VocTech Seed. The grant fund provides a supportive environment to scope and test early-stage ideas, helping to prototype designs and work out the next steps necessary on the journey to long-term success.

Ufi's unique approach as a funder and critical friend to innovators has a lasting impact on the organisations we support. Beyond the benefit of the funding itself, we provide invaluable and flexible enrichment support which can help small teams make a big impact.

You can find out more about our approach and the impact of our grant funding in the independent evaluation of Ufi’s grant funding.

VocTech Activate 2024

Explore the grant fund and register for a pre-application workshop.