Towards the end of last year, agent Chestertons announced a formal partnership with homeless charity St Mungo’s, with a commitment to raise at least £25,000 through various fundraising initiatives.
The idea isn’t just to provide funds, it says. Rather, it wants to engage more directly with St Mungo’s and the people it helps by providing practical support where possible and introducing the charity to other organisations and individuals within the property industry that might be able to help.
“We think the partnership with St Mungo’s is about more than just fundraising or a CSR [corporate social responsibility] box-ticking exercise,” says Matt Brereton, a member of Chestertons’ charity champions committee.
“We’re aware London and the wider UK are facing a growing homelessness crisis, and we want to help in any practical way that we can.”
For instance, at the end of January, Chestertons used its position as a supporter of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) to provide a four-hour workshop to 25 St Mungo’s clients to allow them to express themselves creatively.
The intention is that the resulting pictures (above) will be auctioned to provide another source of funding for the charity.
Spreading the word
On the networking front, the agent invited St Mungo’s staff to attend its year-end client reception, held at the RA. The reception brought together the agent’s staff and client list, and provided an opportunity for St Mungo’s to explain what it does to leading members of London’s property community.
Brereton adds that Chestertons staff regularly accompany St Mungo’s staff on outreach walks in Westminster, Islington and the City, identifying homeless people and guiding them towards the charity’s numerous services.
Through its staff and branches, the company is also promoting the government-funded Street Link service, which allows members of the public to alert charities such as St Mungo’s to rough sleepers so that outreach workers can find them and talk to them, and help them into overnight accommodation.
In much the same way that CBRE’s work with Shelter is about more than fundraising, Chestertons says its partnership with St Mungo’s is about understanding the underlying issues behind homelessness, providing the charity with practical support and offering access to the wider property industry. It is part of a growing trend: property firms increasingly understand they have much more to give than cash.