The cost of living crisis is putting homelessness services on the brink
Amanda Dubarry, CEO of Your Place, writes about how rising costs are affecting our services and the people we support
The London Borough of Newham is in the midst of a crisis, with an alarming rise in homelessness and the cost of living making it difficult for people to make ends meet. Shockingly, 1 in 21 people don’t have a safe place to call home.
At Your Place we offer unique and holistic programme of support that is tailored to each individual’s needs. We provide a nurturing and welcoming space for people to grow, with an accepting community around them. But despite our best efforts, we are struggling to provide the necessary support due to reduced funding and skyrocketing expenses.
Your Place has been hit hard by the rising costs of living, leaving us to rely heavily on fundraising to keep our doors open. However, the pandemic has had a huge impact on fundraising efforts, with donations from community and corporate supporters decreasing significantly. The rising cost of living has also made it difficult for people to give more, putting charities like Your Place in an uncertain financial situation.
At Your Place, we run one of the largest hostels in the country, housing 155 residents on-site. Our current annual energy costs for this service are already £124,000 and could rise to an astounding £620,000 from May 2023 when our current fixed deal comes to an end.
Employee turnover has also increased in the sector post-pandemic, making it difficult for charities like Your Place to retain staff. Without funding to support annual salary increases in line with high inflation, charities are forced to make tough choices. We must either fund these costs from reserves or lose talented staff to higher-paying roles in larger providers who can spread their central costs among numerous contracts.
The situation is simply unsustainable. Homelessness is on the rise, and without the necessary support, people experiencing homelessness may not have a safe place to stay and rediscover their connection with the wider world.
Your Place has helped many people who have found a new sense of hope and independence with our support. Halima says, “Your Place is more than just a roof over my head; it’s a community that has given me hope, support, and a chance to start a new chapter in my life.” “For the first time, my dreams seem achievable. I feel empowered, independent, and successful,” said Danley.
Simon, who was a driver for 20 years before being laid off, couldn’t pay his rent and spent two years sleeping rough before coming to Your Place. After multiple chest infections and not being able to relax, Simon found stability at Your Place and was able to focus on his health and future. Asked what effect the closure of Your Place services would have, he said, “It would be devastating, how can they close a place like this? What’s the alternative? You can’t close a place like this, that’s for sure.”
The statistics speak for themselves – 390 people have found a place to call home, 123 people have moved on positively, 87% have sustained their new tenancy for at least three months, and we recorded 525 attendances in education and training activities last year. These are all incredible achievements, but we need more support to continue our vital work.
It is essential that the government introduces a funding uplift for homelessness services in line with inflation to keep doors open and support services available. But the Spring Budget announcement by the Chancellor on 15th March fails to offer sufficient support.
The government’s failure to provide specific support for those at risk is concerning, and raises questions about their commitment to people experiencing homelessness. While the £100million fund for charities in hardship is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough for the homelessness sector alone, let alone the whole of the charity sector. We cannot let this crisis continue to escalate – the time for action is now.
Your Place and similar charities are doing all we can to help those in need, but we cannot do it without support. Together, we can make a real difference and solve homelessness, one person at a time.
– Amanda Dubarry