“We were able to give them stability” - Founder of St Martin’s House visits the supported housing project and 18 Keys site after more than 50 years

John Pudney, the founder of St Martin’s House, recently visited the housing project he set up more than 50 years ago and spoke about his hopes for its future with the 18 Keys Project. 

Founded in 1965 in Nightingale Lane, Clapham, St Martin’s House is owned and managed by our partner charity The Connection at St Martin’s and is home to 16 former rough sleepers.

It is also the location of the proposed 18 Keys redevelopment project to create 18 studio apartments for women who have been experiencing homelessness.

Pam Orchard, CEO of The Connection, spoke to John about setting up St Martin’s House. 

He lived there with his family for four years, helping people access the support they needed to rebuild their lives.

John Pudney St Martin's House 18 Keys

He said: “That was my vision, finding accommodation, which I already knew was badly needed by so many.”

“It was a roof over their heads and a sense of community that sort of developed. We’d invite them downstairs for tea sometimes. If they had particular needs, you were the one that was here, hearing them.”

Pam asked John if many women stayed at St Martin’s House. He said: “Very few. We did take one woman. She was pregnant and her baby was already lined up to be adopted at birth. 

“That was quite a shattering experience, because when the time came, she went to hospital and had the baby. She came back when the hospital discharged her, and that night she tried to take her own life. 

“One of our GPs came, and they wanted to take her in, but they trusted us enough for her to stay with us. She came out of it and moved on.”

John’s hopes for St Martin’s House

“I’m thrilled to bits that it’s still here, and it’s under forward-thinking management who now want it to meet a bigger need they’ve identified, because they work at the coalface.

“They know what the issues are now, and they are particularly women, and that’s fairly obvious across the board if you listen to the news and see what society is up to at the moment.”

Watch the video below to see the full interview.

Make a donation to the 18 Keys Project

Please help us transform St Martin’s House into a sanctuary for women experiencing long term homelessness. 

This joint project by The Connection and St Martin-in-the-Field’s Trust will provide a safe space for vulnerable women and help them regain their independence.

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