Commonweal funds report into successful pilot of zero-carbon homes above Bristol car park for vulnerable young adults
A new report funded by Commonweal Housing has demonstrated the impact a pilot project that delivered 11 zero-carbon modular homes in Bristol has had on young adults at-risk of homelessness.
The ‘Hope Rise’ scheme was constructed on an elevated platform above an operational public car park in Bristol, utilising the air-rights above to bring forward much-needed council housing, and retaining 100 percent of the existing car parking spaces.
Nine young adults aged between 20 and 35 moved into Hope Rise in 2020 from a range of housing situations including low support shared housing, sofa surfing and a safe house, three were care leavers including two refugees. As a result of support provided as part of the scheme, six are now in work, one is in college, and one is doing an apprenticeship, with one not in education, employment, or training (NEET), down from six.
The concept of Hope Rise was instigated by Bristol Housing Festival – a five-year initiative to test and deliver innovative housing solutions across the city – in partnership with Bristol City Council. The homes were manufactured by turnkey modular housing company ZED PODS Ltd, while the housing support element was provided by YMCA Bristol.
The post-evaluation report was funded and supported by Commonweal. In addition to the sizeable financial sum Commonweal provided to the research and composition of the report, the charity provided additional communications advice, support, and delivery of the report, ensuring that the learnings from Hope Rise were effectively disseminated.
The Hope Rise report becomes the latest in a diversifying range of projects that Commonweal has engaged in and supported – identifying housing solutions to social injustice. Earlier in August, the charity announced the four latest feasibility studies it will fund as part of it its third iteration of the Call for New Ideas, Commonweal’s partnership recruitment programme.
Commonweal has also provided funding for on-the-ground support to Depaul International, a global charity supporting homeless and marginalised people, and commissioned research by Stop The Traffik into trafficking trends as a result of the war in Ukraine, the findings of which will be presented in September of this year.
These latest ventures form part of an expanded remit for the charity. Commonweal operates within four core work streams, plus a growing role as thought leaders, honest brokers, and a platform for discussion around housing and social injustice. These are:
- Property-based action learning projects, typically between 5-10 years in length and which form the bulk of the charity’s operations. Commonweal, often in junction with social investors, invests in bespoke housing to enable the thorough testing of a new model or service with learning captured and widely shared to encourage or enable replication, policy or practice change by others.
- Short term initial feasibility studies undertaken by others using Commonweal’s revenue funding. Such early-stage studies are designed to give prospective partners the capacity and resources to ‘scratch beneath the surface’ of a new or emerging idea they have where they feel it might lead to a housing-based solution to their issue of concern and therefore may become a formal Commonweal property-based pilot project.
- Short term research – a newly created function of Commonweal’s, whereby the charity directly commissions external research into key areas and issues of concern as dictated by the Commonweal staff and Board.
- Influencing policy and practice through effective dissemination and promotion of the findings from its projects and studies but also offering a platform and promoting the thoughts and ideas of practitioners and experts in the fields of housing and social injustice.
Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “Hope Rise represents a great deal of the ethos in which Commonweal aims to promote and espouse: imaginative, collaborative working that puts those on the margins of society at the heart of the thinking. We are at heart an action-learning charity using our charitable funds to support learning from the trying and testing of new housing solutions. We were delighted to fund this report and provide support in the dissemination of the lessons learnt, and I welcome organisations of all sizes reaching out to Commonweal to see if there is scope for future partnership and joined-up working.”
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