St Giles Trust was founded in 1962 in the ward of St Giles in Camberwell, south London. We helped destitute people in south London- typically those who fell through the net and were not in receipt of state assistance. Known as The Camberwell Samaritans in the crypt of St Giles church, we eventually became established as the first day centre for homeless people in south London. Our first-ever recorded client was a young male prison leaver who was suicidal and homeless. In the mid-1990s we relocated to our existing headquarters in Georgian House, Camberwell Church Street and started to work in local prisons offering housing casework support to serving prisoners. This was borne out of our own experiences of large numbers of homeless prison leavers presenting to our services in need of support. This service was in high demand so in 2001 we started training serving prisoners to become qualified caseworkers known as Peer Advisors who could offer advice and guidance to their fellow inmates to meet this need. This was a ground-breaking approach for this time.
By the mid 2000s, St Giles Trust’s foothold had extended further across the prison estate and we developed community-based services in Kent and Ipswich, with further hubs outside the capital in Cardiff and Leeds to follow in subsequent years. The breadth of our work had grown to include our award-winning SOS Project working with young people in gangs, meet at the gates support for prison leavers in need and our Peer Advisor Programme which grew to become established in the community as well as in prisons. To this day, our peer-led approach still underpins our services. We have won multiple awards for our work including The Charity Awards (2007, 2010, 2014), The Centre for Social Justice Awards, The Longford Prize and a Butler Trust Award. Since 2008, we have ranked in the Times Top 100 Companies to Work For and we believe this is largely down to our ethos of being a leading employer of ex-offenders whose lived experiences mean they bring a drive and passion to their work that is exceptional. St Giles Trust is constantly evolving to ensure we best serve the needs of our clients. However, our core ethos remains: working with the most disadvantaged, complex people often excluded from mainstream services and reaching them through using professionally trained individuals who have been there themselves.