We all know homelessness is on the increase. While the public can see more and more people sleeping rough on our streets, tented groups springing up in our towns and cities, more of us know people who are ‘sofa surfing’, the question keeps being asked – What are they doing about it?
People point the finger at government and their local governing bodies – the councils. While it is in the news, while more of us see social media groups and organisations posting about it, people naturally ask that question. Yes – things are being done but more and more people wonder how it is that still – homelessness is on the rise.
Crisis posted that they welcome the Governments pledge of £100 million, but they are concerned that the pot is not new money and they want initiatives to tackle the causes of homelessness. Crisis intends to work to address the causes, which would reduce the numbers becoming homeless. That is admirable but does not address the issues right here and now.
Hostels, shelters, and other outreach groups are at the blunt end, dealing with the symptoms of homelessness. They aim to provide what we call a ‘hand out’ – essential for those already on the streets to survive. We have all seen an increase in this critical work, the visibility of these has grown, more people now have heard of or seen for themselves this kind of support happening. Hostels and shelters are continuing to be full despite some criticisms – some of them out there are doing great work with great people manning them. But this is not a solution.
HBH keep saying we are different. How is that? We expound a housing first solution. Councils across the country do the same in that they endeavour to provide ‘affordable housing’. But we all know there are not enough of those homes, and there is a prioritised and long waiting list. So how is our ‘housing first solution’ different?
Our main aim is to provide housing, by converting shipping containers into high standard micro-flats, but we go one step further than just putting a roof over someone’s head. Our residents actively contribute to the whole project, their time spent working on the containers does more than creating new micro-flats. They are not only involved in the work; alongside professional tradesman and volunteers from all walks of life, they are supported to pursue whatever they need to move on from their previous issues, they gain self-respect and confidence by being part of the project, they form the very community we are aiming to create and by doing all of that, they gain pride and hope for a better future for themselves and those around them. This gives our residents ownership of them turning their lives around. We are the only project we know of doing this anywhere in the country, and we already know it works. It is simple, and it works. And that is what makes us different.