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While this time of year tends to be associated with joy, fun and warm and cosy gatherings around the festive tree for a lot of people, we know that this certainly isn’t the case for all, with winter posing a particular threat to those who don’t have a roof over their heads. As it is the coldest time of year in the UK, it represents the most gruelling season for rough sleepers, who are at real risk of severe illness, hypothermia and sadly many don’t survive.
According to UK government assessments, 3,069 people were sleeping rough on a typical night in 2022, an increase of 26% compared to 20211. And the Museum of Homelessness in London reported that 1,313 people died from being homeless in the UK in 20222.
Thankfully, a lot of people chose to give to homelessness charities over the festive period, with the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) reporting over 25% of people donating in December alone3. Below, we list a few charities that are on the front-line helping people dealing with homelessness and sleeping rough – so if you feel you can give anything this year, maybe check out one of these organisations that are supporting disadvantaged people in a critical way this winter.
The importance of building low-cost compact homes to protect rough sleepers through Britain’s cold winter
At Allia, we have been working on a project called Future Homes for a few years now, where we team up with a range of partners, such as homelessness charities, housing providers, and willing landowners to create modular housing communities, to provide secure and private homes for those who have previously slept rough. Modular homes are custom-built units specifically created to be installed on permanent or temporary sites that are loaned at low or no cost. They are designed to be relocatable, so that the units can be moved to other more affordable sites if necessary to help ensure running costs are kept low.
The charity with which we worked to deliver the first of these communities in Cambridge in 2020, and that still runs the supported community three years on is Jimmy’s Cambridge; CEO Mark Allan says: “Modular home communities are a proven way to provide badly needed one bed housing for homeless people more quickly and cheaply – putting unused land to great use.”
Eamonn Kelly, a former resident of this Cambridge modular home community has now moved on into permanent accommodation which signals a huge success for the scheme. When he was living in his modular home, he said: “I couldn’t even think of having my own home as a reality while I was living on the streets. It gave me a chance to get back to who I am.”
Evidence and award wins
The scheme has been endorsed by independent research by the University of Cambridge, which states: “The evidence suggests that providing modular homes in tandem with robust support services has the potential to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness” and earlier this year, in another report concluded that far more modular communities are an essential extra route for people to recover from the streets and then move into permanent affordable rent accommodation4.
We were delighted to win the national Building Innovation Award for ‘Best Modular Build’ in October this year for our second scheme, a community of six homes in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. And on the back of this success, we are now rolling Allia Future Homes out nationally.
We are now working to support local homeless charities across the UK to build at least 40 more modular homes – with potential projects underway in Scotland as well as cities including Norwich, Chelmsford, Peterborough and Southend. New to our team is Daniel Renn, an experienced Modular Build Specialist from Munich in Germany who has a deep commitment to use his skills to provide a roof over those peoples’ heads that need it the most. He joins Lewis Herbert who has been managing Allia Future Homes for a year now, who, when he was Leader of Cambridge City Council won funding for 500 new council homes which are now all being built.
How we can help
If you are a homeless charity, faith group, housing association, or council with spare land and want to help people with both housing and support, please get in touch with us.
We can help you build homes for people dealing with homelessness or former rough sleepers in your area – our expert team and generous pro bono construction and planning contacts can support new projects every step of the way, no matter where you are in the UK.
Contacts for more information:
Lewis Herbert, Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org 07748 536153.
Daniel Renn, Housing Development Lead: email@example.com.
2 – Gov.uk – Homelessness statistics