Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary: Commonweal is funding the change-makers of tomorrow
A formidable champion of the charity sector and campaigner who rarely rested, Jane Slowey was at the heart of change in the housing and third sectors. Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Chief Executive of young people’s housing charity The Foyer Federation, and a Trustee to Commonweal Housing, Jane was a driving force in political and social life in Britain before her death in 2017.
Jane was also a student in French and Italian at the University of Birmingham (UoB), graduating in 1974. In memory of Jane and her incredible contributions to the housing sector, and as an alumnus of University of Birmingham, each year Commonweal Housing offers a bursary to select Social Policy students from the university to support their dissertation research, specifically related to key social injustices and housing issues.
A fortnight ago, we welcomed the winners of the Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary to present their research findings. Beckye Williams, Charlie Young, Csenge (Cicy) Földvári-Nagy and Katie Batty spoke to the Commonweal Trustees and staff delivering incredibly well-researched presentations that tackled issues from the relationship between social housing and crime, to a comparative study of Finnish and English attitudes and approaches to homelessness.
First up was Katie who discussed the neighbourhood and home learning environment across alternate housing tenures and what impact it has on educational attainment. She found that the quality of home learning decreases in socially rented housing. Next was Charlie, who explored conditions conducive to crime and anti-social behaviour in social housing estates. Interestingly, he identified that the design of social housing contributes heavily to poverty cycles.
Following him was Cicy whose focus was on identifying and exploring the disparate English and Finnish approaches to homelessness, looking into the study of different attitudes and policies. It was intriguing to discover that the response to tackling homelessness has been more effective in Finland due to the provisions of long-term solutions to homelessness.
Finally was Beckye who focused her research on the impact homelessness has on certain protected groups within the equality act. She found that within the system of priority need, certain individuals are given better access to housing provisions.
Following this fantastic research and brilliantly executed presentations, we are sure that each of these students will go on to do remarkable things in the field of social policy.
Ultimately there is clearly more work to be done as this research has shown. And this research will help spur Commonweal on in its continued efforts to tackle social injustice by providing real housing solutions to the issues so many vulnerable people in the country face.
We would like to thank all four incredible students for their hard work and superb research and the University of Birmingham, who we continue to work with to help support the hard-hitting research from the next generation of talented and passionate people who will help in our mission to end social injustice in the UK.