Race Equality Awards 2016 - Role Models in the Workplace (small org) - St Mungos

Abdi, Support Worker


Abdi is a former client who previously lived in a St Mungo’s hostel. He came to the UK after political unrest in his home country led his family to send him here, aged 13. With St Mungo’s, he was offered support in seeking employment and successfully secured paid employment within the organisation. During this time Abdi experienced many challenges and uses his learning to help others, in his role as a Support Worker.

As well as his support work for St Mungo’s, Abdi also volunteers with Voluntary Action Camden engaging with Somali residents and faith communities to promote mental wellbeing.
His community work with Black, Asian and minority ethnic BAME clients has included tackling specific barriers faced by those with poor mental health, using, for example, the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ to start sensitive conversations in a non-threatening way. 
Abdi established a Play Street programme in his local area to promote community cohesion, which he runs on a voluntary basis. The programme creates safe play spaces for children in Haringey and encourages an inclusive culture. Play Street has partnered with the Dr Bike charity to provide free road safety lessons and bike maintenance, which has engaged families in local community activity and helped Abdi develop communication and negotiation skills.
Abdi’s volunteering encourages the local community to participate in activities run by St Mungo’s, helping to break down barriers in society by challenging the stigma around homelessness. He has also engaged with community members, the police and council officials helping to diffuse tensions with the local community and enabled St Mungo’s to successfully rebuild relationships.
Abdi regularly shares best practice in monthly team meetings and actively participates in St Mungo’s Black History Month events. He was also involved in the development of St Mungo’s D&I Strategy, BAME Positive Action Strategy and BAME Network annual plan.


  • Abdi’s innovative joined-up approach to supporting clients with mental ill health has resulted in successful outcomes for clients, including new apprenticeships, volunteering placements with St Mungo’s work and learning team, and more effective engagement with the Somali community. He has also been commended by both middle management and senior leaders.
  • The Play Street initiative has exemplified effective community engagement, slowly turning into a broader movement for improvement with a lasting impact. 40 people have volunteered as D&I allies since its uptake, with responsibilities including making connections to community-based organisations and promoting D&I within and outside St Mungos.  Play Street has also been commended to the London Borough of Haringey, who have recognised Abdi’s work as contributing to their pledge to tackle obesity, and has been integrated into the local community through partnerships with local musicians and schools.
  • Abdi’s story has inspired St Mungos to develop a migrants’ strategy building on the community engagement work he has pioneered, and to add cultural competency to its competency framework.