The Framework organisation are a charity who help over 11,000 homeless people in Nottinghamshire each year, providing them with housing, employment and health support. I sat down with the operations director of Framework, Michael Leng, who gives us an insight into what the charity does and how they work as an organisation to make a positive impact on homeless people lives.
By Joe Dodge-Taylor:@JoeDodgeTaylor1 | Image courtesy of Michael Leng
Winter is nearly over, and the worst season for people who are homeless is coming to an end. During the cold season, volunteers for homeless charities are high in demand; indeed, a recent report in The Guardian suggested that so many people are keen to help the homeless over that time, that volunteers actually get turned away. Yet charities struggle to get them at other times of the year.
Leng’s experiences back this up. “I think your right that the cold winter season is the time when people are more engaged with concerns around homelessness” he told me, adding that the challenge is “to maintain that commitment of volunteers in the New Year… Almost like their new year’s resolution, [people could say] actually I’m going to sign up to be a volunteer and actually I’m going to do it not just for a couple of weeks, I’m going to keep up that investment over a longer period.”
The number of homeless children in particular is at its highest level in 12 years, which begs the question: what are the reasons behind this large quantity of people sleeping rough? From Michael’s perspective, based on his experience of working in Nottingham, he feels a big driver is
“A decline in the funding for early intervention services. That means by the time people get to the streets they’ve got a lot more complicated issues.”
Leng also believed there were other deeper factors behind the rise. He provides insight in to the broader context around homelessness: “You’ve got changes across the whole of the welfare system, you’ve got shortage in housing numbers, there hasn’t been enough housing built so we’ve got huge pressure in the housing market, and landlords have the upper hand”. When I pushed him further he also pointed to “pressures in cuts not just to our sector, but also to the NHS, the police so the whole system has been cut”. He believes all these issues come together to create a precarious environment where it’s all too easy to slip into poverty and homelessness.
Leng makes it clear that there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce the numbers of homelessness, from the government to the general public. Looking at the bigger picture, there are still vast improvements to be made to help people living rough over the UK. At least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain, according to research by the housing charity Shelter. This amounts to a year-on-year increase of 13,000, a 4% rise, despite government pledges to tackle the crisis.
However, Framework are helping to change the lives of many people in terms of finding housing, health and social care and employment. But they always need more support – perhaps you could help?