We have all been deeply affected by the current global pandemic and as I write this blog it is five weeks since the nation was asked to stay at home in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
As a researcher, I have worked closely the local homelessness sector over the last three years and am acutely aware of the pressures they had already been working under before this crisis. Sustained cuts to public sector since 2010 had eroded housing welfare services by 46% between 2010 and 2014 (Perry, 2014). Moreover, evictions from the private rented sector sored by 28% between 2010 and 2017 (Fitzpatrick, et al., 2018).
In this context, hidden forms of homelessness are of particular concern. In 2018, the government recorded that 79,880 households with children in England were living in temporary accommodation; in these households, there were 126,020 children (MHCLG, 2018). In addition to that, the charity Justlife estimated that 51,500 single adults reside in unsupported temporary accommodation in England (Maciver, 2018).
Whilst there is a statutory responsibility for Local Authorities to provide support to families with children, the temporary accommodation offered almost always has a damaging effect on people’s mental and physical health as well as children’s developmental needs. Even before COVID-19, issues such as were already major problems – the Trussell Trust reported a peak rise of 23% from 2018 to 2019 in the number of food parcels distributed nationally (the steepest rise in five years).
It is for these reasons that small projects such as #LockdownLIVEs are so important. As an ongoing project, it hopes to creatively connect Greater Manchester residents living in emergency and temporary accommodation. As a weekly documentary broadcast it has the potential to increase public awareness in a way that can drive political change.
In the first instalment released on Tuesday 28th April 2020, we got a taster of what the project will look like going forward. It already looks like it will become a positive force to connect people and build community. Poetry was provided by one contributor whose engaging style and delivery reminded me of the legendary John Cooper Clarke,
“stay at home and don’t go out, just stop in and isolate. You know what this is all about, you shouldn’t really congregate”
However, it won’t shy away from the real struggles of living in emergency or temporary accommodation. One contributor described that it is a growing struggle to find positive things to do during the day where he lives.
I’m told that each week there will be a theme for each documentary which will help build a discussion about these collective experiences that undoubtably needs to happen. This week’s theme is
What’s the first thing you noticed about the place you’re staying?
To find out more, visit @LockdownLIVEs @twitter and Street Support Network on Facebook.
Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wood, J., Watts, B., Stephens, M. and Blenkinsopp, J., 2019. The homelessness monitor: England 2019.
House of Commons Library (2020) ‘What do the latest food bank statistics tell us? [Online] https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/social-policy/welfare-pensions/what-do-the-latest-food-bank-statistics-tell-us/
Maciver, C. (2018) Lifting the lid on hidden homelessness. Justlife. [Online]
Perry, J. (2014) ‘Local government cuts: housing services have been hit hardest.‘ The Guardian. [Online]