How did you become homeless?
“I ran my own sales and marketing company, but the relationship with my partner broke down and she left. With two little ones relying on me, I had to prioritise them and close the business. Our income stopped and I had to apply for benefits, just to put food on the table. Then I was evicted from our house because I couldn’t afford the rent.”
What was life like when you were homeless?
“I went through hell. I spent months In a shelter, sleeping on the floor. I was living on friends’ couches, but you become a burden. I felt like I was letting my children down. The mental pressure was huge. I applied everywhere to get help, but nothing was moving, nothing was happening. I couldn’t get accommodation suitable for children, they just wouldn’t listen I felt I was going around in circles and couldn’t find the exit.”
How did things change?
“I did creative writing with Crisis in a day centre, then I did poetry, photography and art classes, and I’m learning guitar too. The courses sparked all that confidence that had drained out of me and I got fire inside me to do more. They gave me the ability to kickstart my life again and I soon got myself employment.”
How has Crisis made a difference?
“When they explained all the other ways they could help, my eyes were like puppy eyes. I saw how I could escape the situation I was in. And just as the pandemic was kicking off, Crisis found me temporary accommodation in Liverpool. They kept in touch and I was jumping on every Zoom thing going. I felt like I was properly part of something, I felt important. Then suddenly I’m getting calls saying, they’ve put me down as priority for a permanent place. And I move in tomorrow!”
How do you feel about getting a home?
“I’m excited about being fully settled, not moving the kids about anymore. A home is not just about walls, it’s about filling a place full of laughter and memories, and having that little safe haven. From this point it’s only up and up. I’m feeling very hopeful now, it’s like I’ve got this bubble around me that just cannot be popped.
“Crisis go out their way to help people, and I want to say a massive thank you because, if it wasn’t for the supporters, Crisis couldn’t do
the remarkable work that they do.”
Thank you for helping people like Lee turn their life around - we simply couldn’t do our work without you.
A sudden sign, an instant feeling
Happiness and joy boiling at the seams
Unknowing with excitement, a mystery ahead
A true escape from misery
From darkness and fear it turns you away
A growing smile and warmness within
Without such greatness failure is assured
Don’t let go, for a dream can be true
Hold it tight and don’t give up
What motivation this does provide
What magic this beholds
All from a little thing called
In response to the urgent situation presented by coronavirus and the closure of many emergency accommodation hotels across London, we took action and shifted focus towards supporting people to move on from the hotels and find a safe and secure home.
We saw a unique opportunity to respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness who are staying in emergency hotel accommodation through the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme that was announced last year.
Here, Karen, Housing First Team Leader, talks about the important work that’s being done to support people in emergency accommodation and help them out of homelessness for good.
Coronavirus has affected us all, and highlighted the importance of a safe, secure home. People experiencing homelessness have been, and still are, especially at risk from coronavirus.
Length: 4 minute read (888 words)
Throughout the pandemic, governments, charities and local partners have worked together to help thousands of people move off the streets into emergency accommodation. And a ban on evictions has stopped more people from losing their home.
In a nutshell, here’s how UK governments have responded to the pandemic and what they’re doing to protect people experiencing homelessness and those who are at risk.
In response to the third national lockdown to contain the highly infectious new strain of coronavirus, the Westminster Government has called on local councils to redouble their efforts in supporting people sleeping rough into emergency accommodation to protect them over the winter months.
As part of this same initiative, councils have also been asked to support people sleeping rough to register with a GP to ensure that they can access the vaccine.
The Westminster Government has encouraged councils to assess whether their local frontline homelessness workers can be considered ‘social care staff’ – meaning they can be prioritised for the vaccine.
The Westminster Government has also extended the ban on bailiff enforced evictions until the 21st February – while this doesn’t halt the eviction process entirely, such as in cases where arrears are six months or higher, it does ensure that more people can stay safe in their homes while the national lockdown is in place.
In Wales, the Government is working on a plan to end homelessness to make sure anyone experiencing homelessness is helped to find somewhere safe to live quickly and also prevent people from losing their homes in the first place.
During the pandemic extraordinary work by councils, public services and the Welsh Government to support people living on the streets into emergency accommodation dramatically reduced the number of people rough sleeping across Wales.
And in Scotland, the Scottish Government is working to implement its plan to end homelessness. Throughout the pandemic, Scottish Government, local authorities and others supported people living on the streets into emergency accommodation, dramatically reducing the number of people rough sleeping across Scotland.
However, across the UK the numbers of people in temporary accommodation – in hostels, bed and breakfasts and hotels – has grown to the highest level in recent years.
As we look towards recovery, we must use this moment to build back better for people facing homelessness. This is the opportunity to build on the incredible progress made to not only end rough sleeping but also go further and tackle all forms of homelessness once and for all, so that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to call home.
We urge the Westminster Government to ensure that all people who are homeless are prioritised for the vaccine when phase two of the vaccination programme begins, given the extreme health inequalities they face and the prevalence of health conditions among people who are homeless that increase the risk of them being severely affected by the virus.
The Westminster Government and local areas must also ensure that people experiencing homelessness who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘clinically vulnerable’ are able to access the vaccine over the coming weeks. And as part of this, ensure that local councils have the resources to develop effective plans to reach people who are homeless with the vaccine, overcoming any existing barriers to healthcare.
The Westminster Government should develop a plan to end homelessness which ensures that anyone experiencing homelessness is helped to find somewhere safe to live quickly and also prevents people from losing their homes in the first place. Including supporting those helped into emergency accommodation through the Everyone In scheme to move into safe permanent homes. And building on the approach taken through the Everyone In scheme, the Government must ensure that non-UK nationals facing homelessness can access essential support to help them move out of homelessness for good.
A national roll-out of Housing First across England should be supported by the Westminster Government, which would ensure that people with interlocking problems such as mental health, trauma and drug and alcohol dependencies are helped to find somewhere safe to live and provided with unconditional support so that they can rebuild their life away from homelessness.
The Westminster Government must maintain the current £20 uplift in Universal Credit and ensure investment in Local Housing Allowance continues to cover the cheapest third of rents so that people pushed to the brink by the pandemic can afford to keep their homes. It’s also vital that people rough sleeping are exempt from the benefit cap so that councils can quickly move people out of expensive emergency accommodation into safe and secure homes.
To prevent a wave of people from losing their homes when the bailiff ban ends, we need a targeted package of measures to be put in place by the Westminster Government, which includes financial support, to give security to those renting and landlords during this time.
We’ve seen that when homelessness is made a priority, we can work together to bring people off the streets and stop people losing their homes. But to truly ending homelessness, means moving beyond short-term solutions and addressing the root causes.
Ending homelessness for good is possible. Now, let’s work together so there’s a home for all from now on.