Homelessness in the West Mids at Record Highs. Shelter and Legal & General Team Are up to Beat It

By Yasmin Turner at Shelter

Homelessness in the West Midlands is a serious problem and getting worse. Since 2013 we’ve seen the number of people homeless in temporary accommodation rise by 59%.

However, homelessness across England has risen by 30% on average, meaning the West Mids region is nearly twice as bad.

It’s easy to see why when you look at the housing picture more broadly. Our own research recently showed the West Midlands was also the worst area in the country in terms of the affordability of new homes, with some 93% of families saying they were unable to afford an average priced new home. And that’s with assistance from the government’s Help to Buy scheme.

People are being priced out and they are facing the consequences.

This is why here at Shelter we’re working harder than ever to help people. Not only do we provide expert advice and support from our hub in Birmingham but we also have a number of innovative ways of fighting homelessness in the region too.

photo of a box

Our Home Starter Boxes programme, for example, provides families who are struggling to pay the rent with basic household goods. Basics that we all take for granted like plates, cutlery and cooking equipment become luxuries when it’s a decision between that or paying the rent.

What should go in the box

The staple items that we felt would be most suitable are as follows:

  • Dinner plates x 4
  • Side plates x 4
  • Cups/mugs x 4
  • Glasses x 4
  • Cutlery (knives, forks, spoons, teaspoons) x 4

The best thing about this service is that the equipment is all donated from the great and the good in Birmingham who donate them to our charity shops around the city. We’re also incredibly grateful to Legal & General’s Insurance Business who fund this programme and make it possible. 

Close up of tea set

Cheryl Agius – Chief Executive Officer of Legal & General Insurance comments on the programme “At Legal & General we provide over a million people with a way of insuring their precious home. Getting a home is a struggle for many. Then kitting out that home on a low income is even harder. We are pleased to be helping families on the doorstep of our Birmingham Office settle in to their new homes with just a little extra.”

Gina (not her real name) was homeless and having to move between hostels with her eight year-old daughter. She couldn’t find work, had little to her name and was seriously struggling just to feed her and her daughter.

She eventually found a home but it was empty and, without any money, there was no way Gina could find a table, chairs and kitchen equipment. This is where our Home Starter Boxes programme came in, we helped Gina to find the goods she needed without her having to spend money she didn’t have on finding them.

The impacts of facing homelessness are vast and complicated. It doesn’t just hit your pocket, but it hits your health when you have to cut back on good food, your dignity when you ashamed to speak about it and of course your social life when you just can’t afford to meet your friends any more.

This is why we’re constantly innovating to come up with a range of different services, such as our Home Starter Boxes, to beat homelessness at every turn.

We really need you to get involved too. Whether it’s by donating unwanted goods to one of our shops or even volunteering, if it’s an issue you care a lot about you can get in touch and help, just visit england.shelter.org.uk/support_us/volunteer/opportunities