OPINION: Homes are at the heart of a Stronger Economy

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From our CEO Paul Gartland.

This week marks the start of the National Housing Federation’s campaign, Homes at the Heart.

Having a place to call your own is one of the first steps for many homeless and vulnerable people towards accessing employment, education and training. People who have experienced, or are at risk of homelessness, face a number of barriers to contributing to a stronger economy, such as having no fixed address, access to IT, chaotic lifestyles, and even access to suitable clothing and washing facilities.

Throw in the other challenges some of our clients face – substance and alcohol misuse, previous convictions, low self-esteem and confidence, mental health problems, poor education and employment histories, and it can be extremely challenging to get back into the job market.

In the past five years, with the help of Homes England via our registered provider subsidiary Chartford Housing Limited, we have created 103 new homes for vulnerable people in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and North Yorkshire. We have brought empty properties back into use and renovated many more.

We support people living in their own tenancy and work with people who are street homeless with a view to helping them towards independent living. Supported housing is often the first step in helping some of the most vulnerable people in society to get back to their feet.

We support people like Leah. In June 2018, aged 18, she came to our Group Living Service (GLS) accommodation in Bradford. After suffering with mental health issues, our services supported Leah to move into her own home within a year.

“The hostel staff have really helped me,” she said. “I’ve received all the support I could think of from going to the doctors, help with getting food, budgeting, and staff attending my appointments at the Job Centre. With my anxiety, I sometimes struggle to find the words to say when speaking to people.”

Read Leah’s story here

In partnership with World Jewish Relief, our pioneering Specialist Training and Employment Programme (STEP) helps Syrian refugees find employment in the UK. Many of our refugee clients are qualified and experienced professionals but can face challenges proving their credentials and learning English to a sufficient standard to resume their careers. We offer ESOL classes and help clients to access further education courses so they can contribute to the economy. Read Nadia’s story here.

Stories like these demonstrate the importance of housing for people looking to reshape their lives and unlock their potential. Leah hopes to become a child psychiatrist to help improve mental health services for children whilst Nadia is working as a pharmacist technician and plans to go to University.

Now, more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to help ensure people have a roof over their head is at an all-time high. Our amazing team of staff and volunteers is helping change the lives of many people who would otherwise be denied access to the job market and contributing to the economy.