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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Homelessness: what can you do differently to make a difference?


In her latest blog our president Julie Fadden talks about her time as president and challenges housing organisations to change their thinking and take action to tackle homelessness.

When I chose Crisis as my presidential charity I knew this was a way we could all make a difference in the sector and work together to change lives – then and there the theme of Changing Lives was born for my presidential year – and what a year it has been so far!

I started my year in May 2016 and I am roughly half way through now as my CIH presidency hands over to Alison Inman at the end of September. There's loads more to do before then, but what has happened up to now?

At the CIH Conference in June I announced my intention to lose 10 stone for Crisis – no mean feat when I have spent a lot of time away from home without full control over how my meals are prepared, but so far, three stone has gone. I'm just now entering the exercise phase to try and shift the remaining seven – if you haven’t had chance to sponsor me please visit my JustGiving site, every penny goes towards ending homelessness for good.

It has been a crazy busy year so far – juggling speaking engagements nationally and internationally, meeting members, attending CIH Governing Board meetings and away days, running South Liverpool Homes, doing sleep-outs and volunteering with the Paper Cup Project in Liverpool to provide food and drink to rough sleepers in the city. As a consequence of the latter we have rehoused homeless people directly off the street and given them a furnished home the next day, together with the support they need to sustain a tenancy.

This started as a gut feeling – when handing food to a homeless person and talking to him about his life it occurred to me we had the power to change it right there and then and that is what we did.

We picked two men up the next morning at 9am and furnished two flats from a charity shop, bought all their household goods and kitchen equipment, bought their clothes and food and set the whole flat up for each of them. We did this while they had lunch and breakfast in our SLH Living Room and then we moved them in that afternoon – two lives changed in a morning.

We have now done this for 20 people who are all still living in their flats. Out of these, three have proved a bit of a challenge, but we haven’t given up on them and will do all we can to stop them from slipping back.

While others make excuses, we have thought differently and proved you don’t need deposits for private landlords if the social housing sector operated differently.

Don’t hide behind choice based lettings and computer systems that say 'no' – think differently and use your resources to end the outrage that keeps people stranded on our streets with nowhere to go.

If you need a process, my team will provide it for you, if you need to come and see it work in person, my team will show you. What you need to have is the passion within you to want to make a difference, and the bottle to give a fresh start to people on hard times. This could be you, the only thing I can see that divides us is that when times have been hard for me I have had fantastic parents that picked me up again, and those on the streets, for whatever reason, do not always have that help at hand.

If every housing organisation in the UK stopped making excuses and gave up two properties a month for people nominated by local homeless agencies we would collectively take an extra 50,000 people off the streets in a year.

What price a life?

How hard can it be?

What can you do differently to make a difference?

I will leave it to you to decide, and if you need help my team and CIH will be there for you.

Julie Fadden is president of CIH.

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