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Miriam Lawson

Commonweal’s up for four top industry awards

Commonweal Housing is proud to announce that it has been shortlisted for four industry-leading awards at: UK Housing Awards, RESI Awards, and two Homeless Link awards.

The Rhea project, run with London domestic abuse charity Solace Women’s Aid, has been nominated for Homeless Link’s ‘Home Safe’ award. The category recognises accommodation that gives individuals ‘the right to open and close their own front door and feel safe and secure in their own accommodation’. The award ceremony will take place on 2 December.

Freedom2Work, run in partnership with Elmbridge-based homelessness charity Rentstart, is nominated for three awards:

  • The People First category at the Homeless Link awards, recognising ‘projects that are inclusive and compassionate and that ensure the individuals you are supporting are at the centre of what you do’.
  • The RESI Awards’ Social Impact Initiative – Residential award, which recognises innovative, ambitious, and sustainable non-profit projects that focus on the community. Winners will be announced on 1 December. RESI Awards are managed by Property Week, foremost property news publication.
  • The UK Housing Awards Homelessness Partnership of the Year, recognising impactful and innovative homelessness initiatives with the potential for replication, with winners announced on 25 November. The awards are run by industry leading title Inside Housing.

Employment is difficult to find without a stable base, but accommodation is challenging to secure without a job. Freedom2Work breaks this cycle of homelessness, supporting vulnerable individuals into a 12-month tenancy supplemented by intensive support with budgeting and job-seeking. An innovative saving scheme match funds savings made by the client.

Over five years, 75 percent of clients were supported into work and half into independent housing. An evaluation by De Montfort University found that the project created £2 million in savings which would otherwise have been spent by public services.

Commonweal and Rentstart remain working in partnership to promote replication and adaptation of the project’s combined operation and support models. Projections indicate that, scaled up to national level, the Freedom2Work model could save upwards of an astonishing £600m per year.

Meanwhile, the Rhea project provides quality housing and practical and emotional support for women fleeing domestic violence and their children in Southwark.

Women are often forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or becoming homeless. Additionally, many find refuges to be inaccessible or unsuitable, whether because they have complex needs or an older male child.

Our project with Solace Women’s Aid has improved survivors’ wellbeing, confidence and sense of empowerment, and capacity for self-advocacy amongst other important outcomes like recovery from trauma. Violence against women and girls in all forms remains one of Commonweal’s priority areas of work. It continues to run the project with Solace and Southwark Council, and to share learnings gained to encourage replication of the model elsewhere.

Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said, “We exist to empower frontline organisations to boldly explore housing-based solutions to social injustices, so it’s an honour to be sharing this recognition with our dedicated partners Rentstart and Solace Women’s Aid. Impactful, imaginative, and collaborative projects like Rhea and Freedom2Work are what Commonweal prides itself on. Most importantly, together we’ve been able to make an impact on the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable and share what we’ve learned.”

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