West London Mission and The Pret Foundation, which was set up by Pret A Manger’s founders in 1995, have announced the opening of a new accommodation project for homeless people. On Friday 8th February, in a brilliant opening ceremony, Pret House at WLM St Luke’s was inaugurated by WLM and Pret a Manger in the presence of many friends and supporters of both the organisations.

For over 30 years, Pret has been supporting homeless people by giving away unsold food to homeless shelters across the country, with over 3 million items donated each year. Last year marked the 10-year anniversary of the Rising Stars programme, dedicated to providing career opportunities to the ex-homeless. These initiatives are managed by the Pret Foundation, an internationally registered charity set up with the singular goal to break the cycle of homelessness. 

The ‘Pret House at WLM St. Luke’s’ takes this one step further through a unique partnership providing accommodation and access to expert advice to help homeless people transition into the private rented market.

The Pret House at WLM St. Luke’s is located in London, where there are consistently the highest levels of rough sleeping in the UK. It will accommodate up to 13 people at a time, who will live there for 6-12 months before moving into a privately rented home. The ambition is to help at least 20 ex-homeless off the streets by the end of the year, through this initiative. 

WLM St Luke’s, a service provided by WLM with focus on financial resilience and providing accommodation with support where residents will be paying rent monthly at an affordable rate relative to their wages. They will have their own private room and will receive advice from WLM on how to get a bank account, save for a deposit, as well as develop wider literacy and computer skills. They will also join the Rising Stars programme, working in Pret shops nearby.

Roger Clark, WLM’s interim CEO, said: ‘The values and services of WLM are built on the foundation of continual transformation for those we serve since 1887. We are committed to delivery excellence, as we strive to empower others to lead fulfilling lives. We do this through a commitment to transparency, based on the worth of every person whatever challenge they face.

Launching Pret House at WLM St Luke’s is an exciting new partnership between WLM and the Pret Foundation with our shared vision of ending homelessness. We really believe in the positive difference it will make for individuals and the community.’

WLM St Luke's team is also excited about this great partnership:
 'The partnership with Pret Foundation Trust and WLM is innovative, and looks at not only breaking the cycle of homelessness but guiding people towards sustainable positive change.  WLM St. Luke’s staff are excited and motivated to be part of this initiative, and proud to provide our expertise and experience. Ongoing and safe accommodation is a big barrier to keeping up a job, but at Pret House at WLM St. Luke’s the Rising Stars will have a safe and welcoming place to call home. 

The Rising Star programme offers so much in terms of support around employment, and we aim to meet that with home and life as well - providing a 360° spectrum of guidance. We encourage people in building their confidence, financial capability and other skills, and guide them in saving money to move into private rented accommodation.

It means a lot to the staff and volunteers here at WLM St. Luke’s to be part of this. We are committed to working in a way that sees the person and what they are capable of, and how we can build on the strengths and resilience they have. Every person who walks through our doors is worthy of opportunities to make a positive change in their lives, and by working together with Pret Foundation Trust we will be able to see that happen.'