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By Isabel Nuesse

This past month, I represented WEAll at an online ActionAble event on the topic of ‘Homelessness in the UK’. The webinar included two other speakers, Lisa-Marie Bowles from LB Camden and Shane Cole from Feed Up Warm Up,

Lisa-Marie spoke about current actions taking place in Camden on housing during the time of COVID. Shane reflected on his own experience with homelessness, his continued healing and inspiration for Feed Up Warm Up.

During the event, I spoke to homelessness from a wellbeing economy perspective. From this lens, homelessness should not be viewed as an individual’s personal failing, but rather as a failing of our economic system. In a wellbeing economy, human and ecological wellbeing are prioritised, and can be resolved together. For example, a wellbeing economy envisions community-owned, eco-friendly housing as a potential solution to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, without causing harm to our environment.

Following the presentations, over 30 participants from across the UK broke into working groups to discuss concrete ways that governments, businesses, NGOs and communities could end homelessness and ensure quality housing for all. This following list of tangible policies to tackle homelessness was generated under 10 minutes.

Our main takeaway?

We already have the solutions.
Now we need to make those solutions ActionAble.

 

Government Intervention

  • Government to purchase buildings in cities that can provide social housing.
  • Put pressure on the government to disclose where the money that is supposed to support individuals experiencing homelessness, is actually being diverted to the appropriate causes.
  • Provide government and non-profit services as a package offered under a single banner, as opposed to disjointed efforts from government and non-profits. This would allow interventions to ensure there are no gaps in service.
  • Ease regulations that require individuals to have an address to access basic services.
  • Simply give people homes.
  • Require new buildings to have a certain space for social housing / reduced rent.
  • Government to commission housing specifically for those who are housing insecure.
  • Give tax relief to organisations that are willing to help secure housing for individuals in their communities.
  • Require those that have a second home to give up their space for those without housing.
  • Tax by total land owned instead of by the location or square footage of the home.
  • Signpost empty houses and allow people to sleep there.

 

Business/NGO Intervention

  • Keep emergency beds in hotels and hostels to support those who are housing insecure.
  • Target organisations and companies to share their spaces with those that are experiencing homelessness.
  • Incite collaboration amongst non-profits to holistically support those that are experiencing homelessness, as opposed to working in silos.
  • Build ‘Airbnb for the Homeless’ i.e. empty bedrooms could be shown online, and homeless individuals could ‘book a room’ for the night.

 

Community-Based Approach

  • Partner elderly folks experiencing unstable housing and loneliness, together.
  • Create a nation-wide campaign to destigmatise homelessness.
  • Build shelters in every town and community.
  • Provide specialist support for those experiencing homelessness, to ensure they are well cared for and safe.
  • Scrap the law (in the UK) that prohibits people from receiving services from outside their boroughs.

 

If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please comment on the blog below to start a conversation.

 

We’d like to continue to develop this thinking as part of our work with government bodies who are working on building back better to a wellbeing economy.

 

WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead was recently interviewed by Social Value UK for their series “Social Value Always Matters”.

Katherine spoke about the current coronavirus pandemic and the urgent need for emergency recovery efforts to deliberately build back better and create wellbeing economies.

Watch it below or find it on the Social Value UK YouTube channel here.

Last week, Yannick Beaudoin spoke on Metro Morning in Toronto. He discusses the wellbeing economy and how we can #BuildBackBetter in the time of COVID19. Have a listen to his segment below.

 

Yannick is the General Director in Ontario and Northern Canada for the David Suzuki Foundation.

You can follow him on Twitter here: @ycbeau

French press agency AFP has written a news piece exploring the need for economic system change and has included WEAll, following an interview with WEAll Executive Chair Stewart Wallis.

This is a great example of mainstream news outlets having an increasing interest in wellbeing economy ideas.

Check out the piece here.

On Saturday 20 April, WEAll Knowledge and Policy lead Katherine Trebeck appeared on BBC Radio Scotland. Interviewed by Isabel Fraser for around 7 minutes, Katherine put forward the case for a wellbeing economy and explained why it’s urgent that we work to change the system now.

Listen here from 13:33  (BBC Sounds)