Giving Back: Ipswich Housing Action Group (ihAg)
Homelessness in 2022
Homelessness can affect anyone. A sudden unexpected change of personal circumstances can result in you losing your home: a loss of income, a breakdown in a relationship, a bereavement, or the onset of poor physical or mental health. This has never been truer since the emergence of Covid-19.
This year, we are all facing the longer-term effects of the pandemic, which continue to have an impact on day-to-day life. Imposed social isolation has severely affected mental wellbeing. The national economic effects have seen reduced income and redundancies for thousands of people, creating higher personal debt. The disruption in access to household supplies, support and services is beginning to return to normal, but the cost of living is rising steeply, which adds further pressure to every household budget.
Social housing building programmes are failing to keep pace with demand, and the private ownership and rental market remains buoyant, leaving home ownership and suitable accommodation out of reach for many.
I have genuine fears for what this year may see, in terms of numbers of people feeling they have no alternative but to sleep on friends’ sofas, in cars, or on the streets.
The difference ihAg makes
Attitudes towards homelessness are beginning to change. It’s more widely recognised that this is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but a complex mix of circumstances.
We don’t just support people with the immediacy of needing a safe space to call home; we work alongside them to address the root causes of homelessness.
Our 7-day a week advice hub provides a trusted space to discuss personal circumstances, receive non-judgemental advice and guidance, and gain support and resilience to sustain tenancies. For people sleeping rough on the streets, it also provides access to hot drinks, laundry and shower facilities, as well as a postal address for their mail.
Our money advisors are able to give professional help and advice around personal debts, and support them in their dealings with debt agencies and companies, to negotiate manageable repayment plans.
Our accommodation provides more than just a ‘home’ for people who have experienced homelessness. Staff provide support with the daily tasks involved in running a home – managing money, planning meals, organising shopping, and household and personal hygiene. We also support people to reconnect with services in the community, including health, education, training and employment.
“Without ihAg’s support during this frightening time, I have no idea what would have happened to me. I have my own space, and people I can trust – thank you for helping me change my life”
How you can support ihAg
To enable them to improve their resilience and rebuild their lives, I believe people seeking our help deserve the highest quality support. To continue to provide this, it is essential that ihAg has support from its local community, including local and regional businesses.