Home News University of Birmingham students share research delivering critical insights into housing issues and social injustices
Jane Slowey 24 Students Presentations - cropped

Lauren Aronin

Lauren is the Communications Officer at Commonweal Housing

University of Birmingham students share research delivering critical insights into housing issues and social injustices

Final-year University of Birmingham students awarded the Jane Slowey Bursary Memorial for 23/24 presented their compelling research findings, spanning a broad scope of housing and social policy issues, to Commonweal Housing at a recent University event.

The focus of their research included the disadvantages and discrimination faced by Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) renters, the housing challenges experienced by Ukrainian refugees, and the multiple social harms arising from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In memory of Jane Slowey CBE, a Trustee at Commonweal for ten years until her passing in 2017, the charity established the Bursary to support four undergraduate students at the University of Birmingham’s School of Social Policy with £2,500 in grant money and informal mentoring from Commonweal.

Slowey, an alumna of the University of Birmingham, was an active campaigner against social injustices. Running since 2018, the Bursary continues to honour her legacy by supporting students focusing their dissertations on housing related social issues.

Jessica Nsana, Alice Munson, Olivia Glenny and Ellie Ward were awarded the Bursary for 2023/24. To celebrate their achievements, Commonweal staff and Trustees visited the University of Birmingham, where students presented their research findings at an event attended by members of Slowey’s family and University faculty.

Jessica Nsana shared her findings first and discussed the intersections between housing and race in education, employment, and health for black renters across North-East England. Her research found that black renters face barriers to accessing quality education and employment opportunities as a result of the area they live in.

Additionally, black renters felt concerns about the condition of their properties were often overlooked, leading to worries about their health. Nsana’s study concluded that increased regulation within the private rented sector is needed to address these disparities and improve outcomes for BAME renters.

Alice Munson then shared her research exploring the housing challenges and realities of integration faced by Ukrainians after their initial six-month hosting period on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme – the Government’s hosting scheme developed in response to protecting those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Following interviews with Ukrainian refugees across England and Wales, she found significant differences in the experience of Ukrainians from the two countries. A key finding was that Ukrainians in Wales could use their local council as their guarantor, helping to improve their experiences and ability to find housing after the six-month period ended. In contrast, Ukrainians in England had to rely on help from charities and their host families and often struggled to find guarantors and landlords to rent to them.

Olivia Glenny then presented her study analysing the psychological, cultural, and physical harms experienced by Grenfell Tower residents, shedding light on the institutional violence that social housing tenants face in England. Her analysis assessed policy recommendations made by think tanks, scholars, charities, and the Government following Grenfell, particularly how the newly implemented Social Housing (Regulation) Act (2023) aims to improve the welfare of social housing residents.

Unfortunately, the fourth recipient of the Bursary, Ellie Ward, was unable to attend the presentation event. Her study examined the impact of the cost of living crisis in the UK on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) young adults aged between 18 – 25 living in the West Midlands region.

Commonweal will continue its partnership with the University of Birmingham until at least 2032. The four winners of the Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary for 2023/24 will be announced on our website shortly.

If you wish to find out more about the Bursary, click here.

Ashley HorseyChief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “Every year, the recipients of the Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary showcase an immense passion for the field of housing and social policy through their final-year projects, and it is fantastic that the Bursary can help support the change-makers of tomorrow.

“It was excellent to take the celebration event up to the University of Birmingham for the first time and I would like to thank Jessica, Alicie and Olivia for their excellent presentations, which sparked great interest from the audience.”