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News in brief 138 : June-July 2022

June 01 2022
© Shelter © Shelter

Our monthly round-up of what‘s been happening...

Hats off

Well done to all involved in Shelter’s Wherever I Lay My Hat project. The exhibition saw seven designers and artists collaborate with Shelter service users to tell their unique stories through hat designs. The Wherever I Lay My Hat project took place during London Craft Week in mid-May and was held at Shelter’s Kings Cross store. The service users had experience of homelessness and used creativity to explore and share their individual stories. 


Room to spare

Walsall-based Rupy Kahlon understands what it’s like to live in insecure housing. Some decades ago she was forced to flee an abusive relationship with her two young children, ending up in a women’s refuge until she found her feet. She managed to go on to attend university and form a safe and comfortable life for her and her family. Once her children moved out, she decided to use her spare rooms to help other young adults going through periods of upheaval. She told the Guardian she can empathise with people arriving to her spare rooms with “only a few bags of belongings,” as she has been there herself. Since partnering with the YMCA’s supported lodgings scheme, she has helped 15 young adults find their feet through offering a safe place to sleep and life guidance.




Coffee break

The Invisible Coffee Company (ICC) was launched in February, raising funds for London-based homeless charity Single Homeless Project. To announce the launch ICC sold ‘invisible coffee’ from a kitted-out Tuk Tuk in Kings Cross.


Baristas sold empty cups to customers for £3 a pop, with the proceeds of each sale going to the Single Homeless Project. The ICC was created by the Single Homeless Project and ad agency CPB. ICC has now moved online, where reusable cups and assorted merchandise can be bought to raise funds for the Single Homeless Project.


Short changed

A proposed “managed migration” of millions of people claiming benefits on to universal credit has been criticised by a group of charities. Under Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) plans, everyone on some form of benefit, be it income-related benefit, jobseekers’ allowance or tax credits, will have their benefit replaced by universal credit. The planned “migration” will take up to two years and was due to start in May, according to the Observer. A group of charities including Mind, The Trussell Trust, Shelter and Disability Rights UK have warned in an open letter to the DWP that the move “risks pushing many of them into destitution.”


Team effort

A number of organisations in Cambridgeshire have teamed up to deliver six new homes for people experiencing homelessness. Social enterprise Places for People Living Plus – working in partnership with Fenland District Council, charities Allia, The Ferry Project, and New Meaning Foundation – successfully applied for the government’s Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme to help fund the project, completing the development in March 2022.


The new homes were built using modern methods of construction by local people who have previously been homeless or are unemployed and at risk of homelessness. 


Prison broke

Analysis of Ministry of Justice data by the i has found 12.8% of women leaving prison in the year 2020-2021 were released into homelessness. A staggering independent report into the largest women’s prison in the UK – namely HMP Bronzefield – found that 65% of women were being released without safe, sustainable accommodation to go to. In a May report HM Inspectorate of Prisons said staffing cuts had created weaknesses in release planning. 


Scotland

Marginal pains

Scotland’s Minister for Drugs Policy, Angela Constance, has apologised to people who have not been able to access support for alcohol and drug addictions. Constance was speaking to The Ferret and admitted that people had been “let down” by addiction services. In 2020 Scotland had 1,339 drug related deaths and 1,190 people died due to alcohol. The Ferret’s story was part of a wider project involving citizen journalists who have direct experience of addiction, homelessness or mental health issues. The team co-produced a documentary with the BBC – From the Margins – focusing on addiction, homelessness and poverty.

  • From the Margins first aired on BBC One on 28 March and is now available on BBC iPlayer.


Talking cap

Ahead of local elections in Edinburgh in May, the SNP pledged to introduce rent caps in the city. Edinburgh SNP made the promise in April as it sought re-election to lead the city council. According to The Herald, private rents in the capital have increased by 45.9%since 2010, with the estimated average cost of a two-bedroom flat a staggering £1,111 per month. The plans would see Edinburgh City Council be the first local authority in Scotland to implement rent controls.



Order order

Inside Housing reported in May that the Court of Session – Scotland’s highest civil court – rejected Glasgow City Council’s claim that it does not have an “absolute” duty to find suitable temporary accommodation for homeless households due to its finite resources. The court reiterated that local authorities, under the 2014 Order (updated in May 2020), have a legal obligation to provide accommodation suitable for occupation by a homeless household.


Funding fumble

More than 1,500 children are in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh, with 5,147 people presenting as homeless to their local authority in the capital, according to the Edinburgh Evening News. The newspaper also reports Edinburgh missed out on £9.3m in government funding to spend on homelessness services. Edinburgh missed out on the funding because the city council designs and implements its own strategy to tackle homelessness, instead of the city’s integration joint board, which oversees health and social care. Glasgow, on the other hand, did qualify for additional government funding, as its own integration joint board is responsible for tackling homelessness in the city. 

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