To mark our 10th anniversary in 2016, Commonweal Housing launched a competition to find an under researched area of social injustice, which we could build a research project around and potentially contribute to a new to solution.

Under the title Starter for 10, the competition offered £10,000 to fund a feasibility study into an area of social injustice with housing being part of the solution.

Commonweal Anniversary-6

Left to right Thames Reach’s Jude Cross, Commonweal CEO Ashely Horsey and Jonathan Fewster (Bircham Dyson Bell, Sponsor)

The Winning Project:

Thames Reach; Could a housing model be developed as an alternative to migrant tent encampments? 

Thamesreach is a leading homeless charity operating in London. Its vision is to end street homelessness by assisting homeless and vulnerable people to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives.

Thames Reach outreach teams commissioned by the Greater London Authority and London Councils have identified a group of individuals who do not fit into the traditional rough sleeper cohort. The client group has no recourse to public funds  but are European Union Nationals who are able to live and work in the UK. They do not have significant support needs; are not interested in reconnection; are deemed to be exercising their treaty rights (being in the UK for less than three months and looking for work); and are choosing to sleep rough in tented encampments s to minimise their housing costs. The majority of them are male aged between eighteen and fifty and appear to be working cash in hand and sending money earned back home.

Thames Reach’s application is to fund a feasibility study to gather information and that tests assumptions based on the previous outreach work with a view to developing a housing model that enables Thames Reach to work in partnership with others to offer an alternative to sleeping rough for those currently living in encampments.

Thames Reach now have a year to deliver the research and present its finding for consideration.

Watch a BBC report about this issue

Final Research:

The final research report was launched in May 2017 authored by Becky Rice of br research and Benjamin Sebok from Thames Reach. An executive summary of the report can be accessed here whilst the full report is available here.

Next Steps:

Thames Reach are engaging a range of stakeholders and commissioners in discussions around some of the key findings from this report – not least highlighting the specific needs and different circumstances of many currently living in tent encampments from traditional stereotypes of many rough sleepers. This highlights the need for a wider range of solutions if we are going to address diverse aspects of rough sleeping.

Leading on from this research Commonweal has launched a new design competition to ask questions and seek to identify potential alternative forms of transitional short-term accommodation that might offer viable alternatives to sleeping in tents or on the streets. Full details of the competition can be found here.