The Duke of Cambridge marks 40 years of The Passage

Today we hosted our inaugural annual Awards Ceremony in the presence of our Royal Patron, The Duke of Cambridge. The awards recognise the remarkable achievements of our clients, volunteers and staff as well as thanking donors, partners and other special supporters.

This year, we have made four special awards.

The Marcus Davies Community Engagement Award recognises those who are committed to bringing people and resources together to make lasting improvements in our local community.

Marcus Davies was a client at our Montfort House project who passed earlier this year. This award is given in his memory.

Winner: King’s Scholars’ Passage Community Garden – founding members Bridget Jacob, Sarah MacDonald Eggers and Leslie MacLeod-Miller

Started in December 2020 in the grip of the Covid pandemic, KSP Community Garden is a voluntary initiative between the residents of Carlisle Place and The Passage. Over the last 9 months, they have literally transformed this historic corner of Westminster from a place that was grey and grim to somewhere green and welcoming!

It is a project that truly embodies what it means to be a community.

Founding members Bridget, Sarah and Leslie say: “As neighbours we can and must do our part to enhance both the environmental and social aspects of our community. The KSP Community Garden provides much needed greenery for the area, inclusive involvement for the residents of The Passage and a more inviting prospect in a part of the neighbourhood that has suffered from anti-social behaviour.”

Partnership of the Year Award recognises a special corporate partner that has gone over and above in their support for The Passage.

Winner: Landsec

Landsec have been supporting The Passage for over 10 years. They are a key funder of the charity’s Employment Training and Education team, which has helped hundreds of clients into jobs and a clear route off the street. Many of their employees have spent time volunteering in The Passage kitchen. And more recently, Landsec have adapted their own recruitment processes to reflect those of their charity partners and it is hoped that there may be opportunities for Passage clients to find employment within the company.

Landsec were fast to react to the challenges that The Passage faced as a result of the pandemic, and generously provided additional emergency relief funding as well as helping to secure vital PPE when supplies were desperately short.

Members of their senior team volunteer on various Passage committees and Boards and many employees have generously given their time by taking part in challenge and fundraising events.

Outstanding Contribution Award recognises an individual who has truly worked tirelessly and always makes a special effort to voluntarily help others.

Winner: Tom Byrne

Tom first began volunteering at The Passage 22 years ago and has been present every day, six days a week ever since. He does so much for The Passage and their clients, often working quietly behind the scenes to ensure that things are running smoothly.

He will do anything to help – from collecting donations, organising our clothing store, picking up kitchen supplies, collecting sandwiches, driving the van or receiving deliveries.

Tom really does embody the phrase “unsung hero”.

Outstanding Achievement Award recognises a former Passage client who through their courage and determination has ended their homelessness for good.

Winners: Colin Chilman and Nomonde Mkhwanaz

Colin, a former client, was first supported by our Montfort House residential project in 2008, following 25 years of homelessness.

When Colin first came to us, he was experiencing long-term mental health issues, drug and alcohol misuse exacerbated by the trauma of multiple bereavements.

Colin was unable to perform new tasks, visit new places, use public transport or talk with people unfamiliar to him without experiencing considerable anxiety and panic attacks.

Our team encouraged Colin to accept treatment through Art Psychotherapy and with their unrelenting support and his tremendous courage, he made the first steps towards his recovery.

Some years later, Colin successfully took part in Hotel School, a joint initiative between The Passage and The Goring Hotel. He graduated from the course and for the past 2 and a half years, has been happily employed as a kitchen porter in a London restaurant. Today, he lives independently in his own accommodation.

Colin says: “I’ve never looked back…all for this place…they’ve got me here”.   

Nomonde, a former client, first came to The Passage in 2016 in need of immigration advice and support with her mental health.

Originally from South Africa, when Nomonde arrived at our Resource Centre, she told us that she was street homeless after her relationship ended. She was sleeping on night buses and could barely walk. She had no means to survive.

Over the last few years, The Passage has supported Nomonde to address her specific needs – immigration advice, mental health and finding her own accommodation. We also have a specialist team who help clients like Nomonde who at the time had no recourse to public funds.

She has since gained her UK status, passed a GCSE and is determined to achieve her ambition to become a nurse by studying for an access to nursing qualification.

Nomonde says: “The Passage saved me…they gave me therapy to help me heal and hope for life. I’ve got a reason to wake up now.”

Since being established in 1980, we have helped almost 135,000 people to end their homelessness for good.

Our services have been needed more than ever since the pandemic hit in March 2020. The Passage was a key member of the Pan-London Strategic Emergency Response group, leading the conception and implementation of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative, helping hundreds of people off the streets of Westminster and into hotel accommodation. At the height of the crisis, we set up an emergency food hub, preparing and delivering 350 hot meals daily for people self-isolating in temporary accommodation and unable to access any other food provision. The hub was resourced by volunteers working seven days a week and supplied over 94,000 meals.

Earlier this year, we developed a new rapid-response service, No Night Out, helping to prevent people from becoming street homeless by providing safe, temporary accommodation and tailored support matched to a client’s specific needs. Currently in a pilot phase, No Night Out focuses on people who are rough sleeping in Westminster, particularly those who may be recently homeless due to job loss, offering long-term solutions to help people quickly get back on their feet.

The Duke became Royal Patron in February 2019, having visited The Passage over many years, firstly as a young child with his mother, Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales.