Home News Desperate for solutions – where to find them? | Call For New Ideas
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Ashley Horsey

Ashley is Chief Executive of Commonweal Housing.

Desperate for solutions – where to find them? | Call For New Ideas

Science has come to the rescue has been a growing refrain from politicians, leaders and others as they herald, rightly, the positive news of vaccine development and subsequent roll-out. Wherever they have emerged from – Oxford, Sweden, India, Belgium, even Russia and China – the array of Covid-tackling vaccines are being seen as the solution to a global pandemic.

Notwithstanding the unprecedented speed at which these development and production processes took place, no one believes these vaccines, these solutions, just appeared one day.  We all accept that they have been tried, tested, results analysed, tweaks to the formula and processes made and then tested further.  Evidence of side-effects or adverse reactions have been captured, and lessons have been learnt to improve efficiency, efficacy and impact next time around.

For those familiar with Commonweal’s work you will have seen where I am going with this… the importance of trying and testing, giving experts the space and opportunity to try something new, different and potentially successful. Not being afraid to make mistakes, so long as you are clear how you will learn from them and improve impact, is what Commonweal is all about. 

I am so fortunate to lead an independently funded housing charity that is free to do what it wishes with its resources, and a Board of Trustees who prioritise using those resources to enable the trying and testing of housing based ‘solutions’ across a range of different social policy areas. Sometimes these are areas and injustices that the world may not necessarily be recognising or desperate to address, but which  are huge and immediate for those facing them right here and right now. We want to hear about more of these injustices, problems and even more importantly the dreams, ambitions or visions that people have about what the ‘solution’ might be.

We have just launched our new 2021 Call for New Ideas programme, inviting individuals and organisations to bring those injustices and possible solutions to our attention. Commonweal has set aside funds to support new feasibility studies helping to develop promising ideas for housing solutions to social injustice. We also want to hear from those with more developed ideas and plans that may be ready in short order to progress to a property-based pilot project.

A year ago, as the Covid pandemic first gripped the UK, I wrote about what I hoped might be a growing sense of society and community where, for the benefit of all, we needed to look at the needs of those marginalised and those previously overlooked. The Everyone In initiative providing accommodation and support for those living on the streets or at risk of rough sleeping being the prime example. At the time I wrote:

“It seems there has never been a more important time to be thinking innovatively about the housing needs of the most marginalised.

As each new group is highlighted, it seems to me that there is less and less push back or rejection as ‘special pleading’ calls for their support – instead I believe the newly discovered society is understanding the need to support the vulnerable and the needy.”

Was that rose-tinted optimism, or grasping for any crumb of hope in the dark days of 2020? Maybe.  Certainly, as we get on with living with it in 2021, the reality of still much to do is clear – and so much of that is being willing to back the trying and testing, the learning and improving. 

Commonweal knows that trying and testing takes time, ambitions, opportunity, courage and frequently money.  We can bring some of those things; we know from previous applications and fabulous partners we have worked with already that there are many across the social and voluntary sector who bring the rest, and especially the knowledge and expertise of what might be needed. We want to hear from you. Come and join us on that journey. 

Commonweal especially wishes to hear from those with idea of housing solutions for issues and injustices around violence against women and girls (VAWG), the criminal justice system and, across both of these themes, how to address the disproportionate impact on BAME groups and individuals.

For more information and to share your project idea with us, visit commonwealhousing.org.uk/call-for-new-ideas.

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