Guest post by Susan Dolan, The Peoples Hub advocating Social Enterprise Tech 4 Good
According to Shelter, the UK housing and homelessness charity, more than 274,000 people were classed as homeless in England in December 2021. This included a staggering 126,000 children. Their figures were based on official ‘rough-sleepers’ and people (mainly families) who were housed in temporary accommodation. Shelter also reported that 2,700 people sleep rough on any given night (and these are just the ones they know about).
End Homelessness Through Social Enterprise Tech 4 Good
Head across the Atlantic to the US and the figures are no less depressing. According to an article by PolicyAdvice, approximately 17 people per 10,000 experience homelessness each day and the current estimated number of homeless in the US is 552,830.
It’s anticipated that the levels of core homelessness in the UK will increase by a third between 2019 and 2024 if nothing is done to create workable policies and find realistic solutions to end homelessness. Fortunately, it’s a topic that receives a lot of attention with many agencies and individuals raising awareness of homelessness.
Two people who are doing their bit to tackle the issues of homelessness and eradicate rough sleeping are Amy Varle from the UK and Dan McDonald from the US, both of whom gave a keynote speech this summertime.
Two Champions. Two Venues. Two Speeches. One Aim – To End Homelessness
Amy made her keynote speech at Housing 2022 in Manchester, UK. ‘Housing’ is the Chartered Institute of Housing’s award-winning annual conference and it’s been running for 75 years. It’s also Europe’s largest housing event. This year, there were over 8300 attendees and 450+ speakers.
Amy took to the stage alongside the housing minister to talk about the roll-out of Housing First and to introduce the concept behind Socially Homes, Amy’s digital social platform that aims to open dialogue between housing providers and support agencies. Socially Homes wants to address the fact that there are not enough social homes available for the people that need them. In addition, how those homes are allocated to people in need varies from provider to provider and from council
to council across England.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Dan McDonald was addressing the audience at the annual National Sheriff’s Association 2022 conference held in Kansas City over the same period. In his speech, entitled ‘There’s No Place Like Home,’ Dan discussed homelessness from a slightly different angle, that of how the police and authorities deal with homeless people, and called on the police to develop better responses to homelessness.
In his speech, he looked at ways to encourage and help police agencies and communities to develop innovative, cost-effective, human and legal responses to homelessness, including how to start a police homeless outreach team. He also raised the issue of jails being the largest homeless shelters in many communities and ways to reduce the cost of this to the taxpayer.
Socially Homes – Let’s End Homelessness. Together
Let’s End Homelessness. Together. That’s the message put forward by Socially Homes, the digital social platform that’s designed to facilitate social networking for social housing. The platform aims to find opportunities to engage people-centred approaches to eradicate rough sleeping and promote social and supported housing solutions that are ethical, compassionate, and sustainable across the UK. Through their digital events calendar, they provide a range of opportunities for members to
meet, socialise and learn from each other.
The brainchild of Amy Varle from Greater Manchester, the Founder and Creative Director of Socially Homes, the initiative was launched at 10 Downing Street in September 2021 as part of a global rollout. She describes the platform as an ‘Uber for the Homeless’. Amy, herself, lived in a homeless hostel for young people when she was 16 and so is equally as comfortable sitting on the streets speaking to homeless people and rough sleepers as she was addressing the issue of homelessness with Prime Ministers.
She predicts that the digital membership platform will help tens of thousands of people in crisis across the UK as it rolls out over the next two years and hopes that it will reach 1 billion people across the globe within the next ten
In 2016, Amy received grant funding to conduct an independent field study in the USA, where she met with leaders from homeless organisations and social enterprises in both San Francisco and New York. On her return to the UK, she published a white paper of policy recommendations based on her findings.
Amy plans to roll out Socially Homes across several states in the US and is already discussing international trials of her social networking-for-social-good concept, with social enterprise being the underlying factor.
Susan Dolan, The Peoples Hub
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