The House of St Barnabas: supporting homeless people into employment

The House of St Barnabas helps people affected by homelessness and long-term unemployment to get their lives back on track.

Social Problem

People affected by homelessness often find it almost impossible to get a job. They may be struggling with a complex array of challenges that led to their homelessness, and often cannot access education or training in order to get back on the employment ladder.


The House of St Barnabas is a members club with a difference. Its key aim is to help people to break the cycle of homelessness and get back into employment. It offers a three-month employment preparation programme, where people can learn hospitality, catering and office skills at the club in Soho Square. Along with work experience, participants benefit from personal development support, such as one-on-one coaching. Graduates from the programme are then offered structured support for a further 12 months, and are paired with a member for mentorship and guidance.


The House of St Barnabas has been running since 1846 and the Grade I listed building was badly in need of refurbishment. When the charity decided to offer its integrated work experience programme, the team realised that they would need to improve and modernise the building. To fund the work, The House of St Barnabas took out a £349,000 loan with Charity Bank.


63% of the people who’ve graduated from The House of St Barnabas’ training programme have gone on to find a paid job. Participants are also helped to access affordable accommodation. With both a place to live and a secure job, people are able to regain their place in society, as well as their confidence and self-esteem. Members of the club also benefit, as they have a place in which to meet and exchange ideas with other people who are committed to bringing about positive social change.

“There’s a social conscience to know where your coffee comes from; why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to your money? It’s very easy, faced with all the difficulties in the world, to feel as though your actions are inconsequential – but in fact the opposite is true. You might only have £5 to save, but you can choose where you save it and how it gets used. You can become part of a bigger movement through saving with an ethical bank like Charity Bank; that’s a very empowering thing.”

Sandra Schembri, CEO, The House of St Barnabas

When I first got here, I had nothing. When you’re homeless, it’s hard to scrabble around and you’re always hungry, living off a couple of pounds to buy food that just about keeps you alive. Spending time at the Academy helped me re-establish some structure and build my self-worth. Now I feel like I’m able to contribute. It was thanks to the people here that I found my job. The work of the Employment Academy is invaluable – there’s nowhere else quite like this.”

Harvey, programme graduate, The House of St Barnabas
Homeless Charity

The House of St Barnabas © Lucy Hunter

Last reviewed: 28/04/2020