young activists on steps of parliament

Politicians, scientists, footballers and young activists join the fight against homelessness

James de Souza | 14.07.16

Homelessness is one of the most critical issues facing society today, so it’s great to see people from different walks of life coming up with new ways to tackle this problem. From politics to plays, football tournaments to cutting-edge technology, here’s our run down of some of the innovative ways people have come together recently to support those who are homeless…

This March, over 100 young people affected by homelessness visited Westminster to take part in Youth Homeless Parliament. This initiative gave them the opportunity to question Homelessness Minister, Marcus Jones MP, on some of their most pressing concerns including high rents and low apprenticeship wages. One of LandAid’s ‘Young Voices’ ambassadors, Holi Parchment, opened the debate with a brilliant speech on tackling youth homelessness.

We’ve seen politicians from different parties show a real concern for tackling homelessness. In April, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending Homelessness was established, bringing together MPs to discuss solutions to the root causes of homelessness and giving homeless people a platform to share their experiences. We were also delighted to see Bob Blackman MP use his private members’ bill slot to introduce a Homelessness Reduction Bill, requiring English councils to take action to prevent homelessness.

Outside of England, Llamau, Wales’ leading homelessness charity – funded by LandAid in the past – joined with other Welsh homelessness charities to successfully campaign for tougher legislation preventing young homeless people from being placed in B&Bs, where they can be exposed to dangerous individuals and have nowhere to stay during the daytime. Meanwhile, football’s coming home in Glasgow, where the annual Homeless World Cup is being held, bringing together people who’ve experienced homelessness from around the world to show off their skills and share their stories.

Homelessness also made a striking appearance in the arts world recently. A one-night stage version of Cathy Come Home, a hard-hitting drama about homelessness, was put on by Cardboard Citizens, who make theatre involving homeless people to raise awareness of this issue. Five members of LandAid attended the play, which was followed by a discussion with Palme d’Or winning Director Ken Roach, who argued that we need a more sympathetic response to homelessness from the government and the media.

Finally, we were fascinated by the research carried out by Stanford University who are using virtual reality technology to capture the experience of being homeless with the aim of creating the ‘ultimate empathy machine’. The project immerses participants in the real-life scenario of a local night bus used by homeless people as a safe place to sleep, during which they meet passengers who’ve fallen victim to illness, debt and long housing waiting lists. Their empathy levels are then tested when, after the experiment, they are given the option of donating the gift card they receive to a local homelessness charity.

At LandAid, our mission is to unite people from across the property sector to end youth homelessness, so it’s fantastic to see so many initiatives to bring people together from different fields to tackle this problem. We look forward to seeing what comes next!