Commonweal funds new research into Homes for Ukraine and single parent emergency housing
Commonweal Housing has agreed to fund two new separate pieces of research that will: i. analyse learnings from the Homes for Ukraine scheme and; ii. investigate the lack of specialist emergency accommodation for single-parent families with children.
The charity has funded two organisations to capture learnings from the Homes for Ukraine scheme. These are modern slavery experts at Nottingham University’s Rights Lab, and Hope at Home, a national charity dedicated to training and supporting volunteers to host survivors of modern day slavery and human trafficking.
To help house Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion, the UK Government launched the Homes for Ukraine initiative, encouraging members of the public to offer their homes to accommodate refugees. Sponsors willing to host Ukrainian refugees received a £350 payment per month for an initial six-month period. Within a few days after launching, more than 150,000 people and organisations had registered an interest in housing refugees.
The objective of the research is to gain greater clarity and understanding of the motivations of UK households volunteering to host, while analysing the various measures that were successful or were not undertaken to the expected degree. The aim is for the research to influence future, similar schemes and demonstrate best practice for both the UK public and arriving refugees.
The research will be conducted via interviews with hosts as well as individuals who signed up to host but ultimately did not host. Cultural attitudes, financial benefits, support, training, media impact, and practical considerations are key themes set to be explored in the interviews.
Often hosting programmes struggle to recruit hosts successfully. Therefore, understanding why Homes for Ukraine attracted such a high number of sponsors will offer Hope at Home, and other organisation across the field, invaluable insights to help increase the charity’s impact and ability to host more victims of modern slavery.
Alongside Hope and Home’s research, Commonweal has agreed to fund research undertaken by London-based architects Morris+Company and developers Common Projects investigating the injustice facing single-parent families with children in need of emergency accommodation.
Currently, there is no specialist temporary accommodation with standards around housing condition to ensure families with children are housed in a safe and secure environment. As such, local authorities have no choice but to house families with young children in emergency housing such as hostels, hotels or B&Bs with vulnerable single individuals, many of whom suffer from mental health problems or drug and alcohol addiction.
At the end of September 2021, there were 96,060 households, including 121,680 dependent children – children aged 0-15 – living in temporary accommodation across England. Due to the high number of people in need of temporary housing, families are often placed in non-fit-for-purpose buildings lacking sufficient space, access to natural light, thermal comfort or safety, which leads to worsening mental health and wellbeing.
Given the lack of suitable temporary housing for families with young children, the research study aims to develop a set of condition guidelines for buildings used to house single-parent families. It will also consider how different durations of stay affect a family’s spatial requirements. The research will create a framework for a new affordable model which can be offered to local authorities to be used across temporary accommodation provisions.
Both pieces of research are set to be released early next year. To help raise awareness of the findings, Commonweal will work with both partners to distribute the learnings to stakeholders operating in the relevant sectors and policy-makers.
The funding for both studies comes from the charity’s efforts to scale-up its research function, whereby Commonweal funds and supports research from front-line organisations investigating key issues and areas of social injustice.
In the new year, the charity’s focus will make a general shift toward issues relating to human trafficking and migration for the commencing years. This steer in interest follows recent research Commonweal commissioned and supported from modern slavery prevention organisation STOP THE TRAFFIK, which explored the patterns of migration and trafficking emerging from the war in Ukraine.
Amy Doyle, Deputy Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “Funding and promoting cutting-edge research is something that we have been expanding this last year, and these new pieces present fundamental opportunities to understand and influence key policy areas that affect huge numbers of people. As we increasingly shift our interest to human trafficking and migration over the coming years, we encourage front-line organisations with ideas to tackle injustices in this field to reach out.
Although we are taking an increased interest in injustices related to human trafficking and migration, tackling direct housing injustices facing vulnerable people remains at the heart of Commonweal’s mission. This is why we were keen to support research into the issues facing single-parent families living in emergency accommodation.”
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