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6 February, 2020
News Story


We are so proud to be awarded Institute of the Year 2020, from Citizens UK, in recognition of our residents campaigning around housing and homelessness issues within our community.

Citizens UK are champions of community organising, and embody democracy in action. Their work offers people the chance to be involved in community organising in order to develop community leadership and enable people to become agents of change.

We are delighted to work in partnership with Citizens UK, and see the positive impact of the collaboration on our residents.

In August 2019, residents of Caritas Anchor House launched project in collaboration with Newham Citizens, to have their voices heard on the housing crisis which is directly affecting them, and thousands of others. The housing situation in Newham includes rising levels of homelessness, rocketing rents and a severe lack of affordable housing options, and it’s a topic on which each of our residents are experts by experience. This personal experience has empowered our residents to advocate for change to address the issues both locally and national, with Newham Citizens help.

It has seen residents meet local and central government representatives, to discuss future plans for affordable housing and approaches to local developments. They’ve also presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Housing Commission to understand the reality of the national housing crisis and enable them to make policy recommendations for the government. Our current focus is working with a social housing provider to secure 10 homes and employment for Caritas Anchor House residents on the new Manor Road development.

The project has shed light on the views of those desperately in need of affordable accommodation. It has illustrated the need for transparency in local authority housing processes, and in particular, has voiced the concerns of our residents around the procedures for bidding for housing.

Our partnership has been going on for much longer through, and in 2016, we were delighted that our successful campaigning resulted in the planned 6% of affordable housing on the Boleyn Ground development being increased to 25%. Residents worked with Citizens UK and other local organisations to appeal to the local authority regarding the lack of affordable housing on the proposed development, as well as the mayoral candidates.

Susan, a former resident of Caritas Anchor House, said the following at one of our campaigning events last year: “I have lived in East London for over 40 years. Before the Olympics, Newham didn’t have much of a name and was known as a bit of a dumping ground. But now, it’s seen one of the highest rises in rents and it’s very expensive to live here.

“I became homeless when the landlord decided to sell my home with little notice, but I was able to move into Caritas Anchor House. Without them, I would have been on the streets like many others. That’s why we welcome new developments in our community, helping to solve the housing crisis so many of us are facing.

“All we are asking for is genuinely affordable housing with a little compassion, empathy and understanding. Charity begins at home, and Newham is exactly that – our home.”

We are stronger together, and we look forward to continuing to build on this momentum and further amplify the voice of our local community to create the changes that are so needed.

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