Injustices facing migrants and young people become Commonweal focus areas
Commonweal Housing has announced its new priority policy areas for the forthcoming years, shifting focus towards injustices faced by young adults and those facing difficult transitions to adulthood, and injustices emerging as a result of migration and human trafficking. The social justice charity will also continue to concentrate efforts on the criminal justice system as a core policy theme.
The new focus areas replace Commonweal’s previous priority themes: violence against women and girls (VAWG), and systemic injustices that occur at points of transition in people’s lives. The charity will continue to support existing projects in this space and use prior and future learnings from its projects to help deliver housing-based solutions to social injustices, and influence policy change.
Since 2018, Commonweal has set out focus ‘themes’ – policy areas where injustices have emerged but may sometimes be overlooked or where housing as part of the solution requires greater inspection. The past five years has seen the charity focus on VAWG, transitions and the criminal justice system.
Following successful pilot projects, research, and efforts to influence policy in its VAWG and transitions themes, Commonweal has taken a steer in new directions so as to maintain its innovative outlook on housing solutions to social injustice.
Over the coming years, Commonweal is set to focus on issues facing young adults and those facing difficult transitions to adulthood. Young adults are currently at the forefront of the cost of living crisis, with the rapidly rising energy and rent costs, causing 39 percent of young people aged 18 – 34 to be worried about housing security during the last year.
For many young adults, such as care leavers, the increased cost of living has exacerbated the hardship they face, as those on lower incomes struggle to become financially independent from age 18. The current economic climate has left care leavers struggling to afford necessities and manage debt, leading to worsening mental health.
The charity will also turn its attention toward issues relating to migration and human trafficking. Commonweal seeks to hone its efforts in this area following recent work the charity has undertaken in this field. This includes commissioning and supporting research from modern slavery prevention organisation STOP THE TRAFFIK into the trafficking and migration trends emerging from the war in Ukraine.
Asylum seekers and refugees continue to be affected by the Government’s harsh immigration policies, notably the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition. The NRPF policy restricts individuals, pending the outcome of their visa application, from accessing housing support or other state benefits. Alongside project partners Praxis Community Projects, Commonweal has seen first-hand the positive impacts housing has on those restricted by NRPF. As such, Commonweal is seeking to expand its knowledge, experience and impact in the migration policy area.
The criminal justice system has been a focus of the charity’s work for several years, but will remain a priority theme as Commonweal believes that the housing element of the criminal justice system requires greater focus.
Prison leavers released into homelessness are at high risk of reoffending compared to individuals with housing arrangements in place, highlighting the critical role housing plays for ex-offenders.
The social justice charity also seeks to focus on specific issues within the criminal justice system, including the over-representation of ethnic minorities and issues surrounding youth justice. Despite making up only 14 percent of the population across England and Wales, more than one in four prisoners are from minority ethnic backgrounds.
In the coming months, Commonweal seeks to gain greater clarity on the issues facing young people, individuals in contact with the criminal justice system, and the migration and human trafficking field. The charity plans to hold a series of workshops to capture on-the-ground insights from sector experts, including charities, social enterprises, think tanks, and policymakers.
Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “As we start the new year, Commonweal is pleased to transition its focus and resources in the direction of migration and human trafficking, young adults, and the criminal justice system. We’re especially keen to hear from experts and front-line organisations operating in the housing and policy sector to find out the key injustice within these areas.
Details about how Commonweal aims to gather this information will be announced shortly. In the meantime, we encourage those with first-hand knowledge of the issues affecting these groups and the role housing can play to get in touch by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org”.