Commonweal presents 2022/23 Annual Review ‘Commonweal Housing’s New Horizons’
Commonweal Housing has launched its 2022/23 Annual Review: Commonweal Housing’s New Horizons, and celebrated yesterday at the charity’s Summer Reception.
The Annual Review draws on the charity’s past year, which has been defined by the theme of new horizons. Notably, this includes Commonweal’s newly established focus themes: ‘migration, asylum and human trafficking’ and ‘young people’, the expansion of geographical reach – with new projects and partnerships spanning the UK, as well as welcoming new staff and new Trustee.
Following successful pilot projects and campaign work in the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector and positive work related to injustices emerging at the point of transition in people’s lives, Commonweal has turned its focus towards injustices faced by young adults and those facing difficult transitions to adulthood, and injustices emerging as a result of migration, asylum and human trafficking. While the criminal justice system has been a focus of the charity’s work for several years, it will maintain a core theme as Commonweal believes that the housing element of the criminal justice system requires greater focus.
In the last year, new project ‘You’re Home’, in partnership with Belfast-based church East Belfast Mission and Commonweal, opened its doors to the community of east Belfast. You’re Home provides temporary accommodation and support to people experiencing homelessness, and acts as a route into housing for people in transition excluded from the private and social rented sectors. This project marks the first property-based pilot project Commonweal has established in recent years, with more projects also forthcoming.
The third re-opening of Call for New Ideas – Commonweal’s flagship partnership programme – saw the charity partner with five front-line organisations seeking to test the feasibility of imaginative housing-based solutions to social injustices. These new partnerships span new countries and cities outside of London, including Northern Ireland, the West Midlands, Liverpool and Plymouth, enabling Commonweal to explore injustices and their impacts on people from across the UK.
Alongside new projects and partnerships, the social justice charity has successfully expanded its research workstream, funding and supporting pieces of ground-breaking research seeking to understand the causes and solutions of a range of injustices. This includes an evaluation of an innovative housing scheme in Bristol, research into the trafficking trends emerging from the war in Ukraine, and a report capturing learnings from the Homes for Ukraine scheme, with more research pieces also in the pipeline.
Commonweal has also encountered internal changes over the last 12 months by welcoming new staff across the finance, projects and communications departments and having experienced researcher Dr Elanor Warwick join its Board of Trustees. As the Head of Strategic, Policy Evidence and Research at Clarion Housing Group, England’s largest housing association, Dr Warwick is equipped with extensive housing knowledge offering the social justice charity a fresh perspective and expertise in all matters housing.
While the Annual Review encompasses the new chapters Commonweal has embarked on, it also reflects on the longstanding projects that have arrived at their scheduled ending. This year has seen the Move on Up project, which houses and supports young adult carers in partnership with Quaker Social Action (QSA), reach the end of its pilot period. In light of this, Commonweal and QSA commissioned Nicola Aylward at Learning and Work Institute to conduct research into the injustices facing this often-overlooked cohort. The newly released report ‘We Still Care’ aims to increase the visibility of young adult carers in policy and push for improved housing options.
Jack Mactaggart, Chair of Commonweal Housing, and Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive said: “It has been a year of incredible activity from Commonweal Housing. Defined by our ever-present will to dig deeper, to scratch beneath the surface and unearth those hidden gems we call housing solutions. We would like to thank our fantastic project and research partners, new and old, our social investors, friends and colleagues and everyone who has played a part in making Commonweal’s unique mission to test and develop innovative housing solutions to social injustice flourish.”