Housing Programmes in the UK
Our vision is of a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live – and we don’t limit that by geography. Whilst many people associate our work with overseas projects, we recognise the need to help people in Britain too.
With homelessness sharply rising and rough sleeping in London hitting record high with 18% rise in 2018-19, it’s shocking that over 20,000 spaces have been empty for at least six months, and 11,000 for more than two years. That’s why we’ve embarked on a mission to renovate and refurbish empty spaces into decent homes for vulnerable groups. Our strategy focuses on working with partners, reclaiming empty housing spaces, renovating them with volunteers and turning them into decent homes.
Homelessness is one of the biggest housing challenges we face. We believe that the best way to tackle it is to stop it happening in the first place. With your support we can continue our work tackling homelessness in Britain and the UK, working towards a future where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.
‘It’s not just about having no where to live. It’s having no one there.’ - Josh
Alone and at rock bottom, Josh had nowhere to go. He was 22-years-old and homeless.
“Since I was 13, I was bouncing back and forth between my mum and dad’s place. Sometimes it felt confusing. I moved in with my girlfriend when I was 18 but when we split up, I had nowhere to go. I was homeless, sleeping rough, and ‘sofa surfing’.
When you’re homeless, some people judge you. They don’t see you as an individual. Just one night sleeping outside is scary, you never know where you’re going to be tomorrow, where you’ll end up, what will happen. There’s a stigma on homeless people. But if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes you realise that sometimes bad things just happen to normal people.
When I was chosen to live in one of the flats which Habitat for Humanity built, I couldn’t wait to move in. I have my own space now and the affordable rent here is helping me save up for my own place. I want to find a job in music – I don’t need to be rich, just earn enough to make a living – and this place is helping me to gain the confidence to stand on my own two feet.
We all have to put our hands up and ask for help sometimes. Life is starting to get better now, things are getting back on track. I feel better in myself and I’m going to work my way up in the world and get back what I’ve lost”
Josh’s story, is an example of just how easily any of us can fall on hard times as a result of misfortune. There are many more young people like Josh who desperately need our help in Britain.
In his own words: Josh
Supporting Young Care Leavers
Our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to call home is particularly poignant for young people leaving care in Britain. It is estimated that very year around 10,000 16- to 18-year-olds leave foster or residential care in England. Having been shuttled from one home to another during their childhood, the sense of security which comes with a home has never been their reality.
What’s more care leavers are forced to be independent much younger than their peers. At this early age, the prospect of finding employment, paying rent and other bills, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle without the support network and safety net of a family can be a daunting prospect.
HFHGB, in partnership with Barking and Dagenham council has launched the second phase of a successful pilot programme to refurbish and renovate council owned vacant and disused properties. This will deliver supported affordable accommodation for young care leavers, a group identified as particularly vulnerable to experiencing homelessness.
We believe that these empty spaces can be put to use to have a life-changing impact on young people who find themselves homeless.
Renovating a Women's Refuge: Escaping Domestic Violence
Rates of reported domestic abuse increased by 63% between 2011 and 2018 in London. The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a 24% increase in domestic violence in London, with approximately 100 people getting arrested per day. It has also been reported that some victims are currently suffering in silence fearing if their abuser is arrested and becomes unemployed, they and their children will be plunged into poverty.
Since 83% of high frequency victims are women, Women’s refuges are in constant use, and conditions can deteriorate quickly through wear and tear. Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Housing for Women, to fund and manage a suite of upgrades to improve the condition of one refuge at a time.
We work with UK companies, dedicated UK volunteers and our team of specialist architects and skilled construction workers to improve the living conditions for women and children fleeing domestic violence often leaving behind all their own possessions as they escape.
This is the fifth refuge we have renovated and the project has been kindly sponsored by P&G, a global supporter of Habitat for Humanity, providing vital funds and the enthusiasm of their UK employees as volunteers.
They’re not hidden or forgotten
Erika Jenkins, Director of Supported Housing at Housing for Women, told us what a huge impact the refurbishments made to the lives of the women living in the refuge.
“It shows that other people know that they’re there and they’re not hidden or forgotten, and that’s really important for women that have been abused and marginalised”, she explains.
“I know how much difference it’s made to all the women in the refuge, to the children come back to see a new area painted and freshened up, about the new furniture that’s coming.”
Women from all walks of life
Talking about the women’s background, Erika also tells us that “they come from everywhere. From all over the country, from every walk of life, from every demographic. We have women who are solicitors, housing officers, directors of companies, mums of two.”
The impact of domestic abuse on the victim is long lasting with significant psychological consequences. Victims live in fear, face high levels of stress, and are at high risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, 40% of homeless women state domestic violence as a contributor in their homelessness.
Appropriate support is critical for the lives and well being of the victims. That includes a safe space, like Claudia Jones Organisation, that can strengthen the women’s resilience and independence and provide appropriate one-to-one emotional and practical support.
Since xxx we have formed a partnership with the Claudia Jones Organisation, a charity that provides practical and emotional assistance to empower women and families in the London Borough of Hackney and neighbouring areas.
The premises of Claudia Jones are at the moment in urgent need of renovations and repairs. We aim to act as a catalyst to galvanise funding and deliver renovations that will make the space welcoming and able to serve even more women to rebuild their lives, free from violence and fear.