The last few months have seen many of us with lived experience of homelessness working in partnership with those experiencing difficult times.
This moment has given us real hope that, as a society, we can end homelessness for good.
To do so we must not seek a quick fix. We must ensure that people are offered more than a roof and shelter. People must be offered a home, which is safe, secure and allows for physical and emotional well-being. People must be empowered to choose where their future lies.
At this crucial time, we are calling for all of us, including national and local government, statutory services and the voluntary sector, to consider the following three principles in all that we do in our efforts to end homelessness.
1) Give people a voice
For far too long, when we experience homelessness, decisions about where we must live and what we must do are made without listening to our views. And although many local authorities and services state that they do involve us in decisions, in our experience this is often not the case.
This is wrong. As human beings, we must all be involved in decisions about our long term prospects. We must be valued, with our views respected, heard and acknowledged.
Instead of reducing self-esteem and confidence, practices must be adapted to ensure that people are empowered to be equal partners in decisions made about our lives.
2) Give people a choice
Most people have many choices. But when we experience homelessness, this is often not the case. Choices about where we can live and how we must engage with support are taken away, or replaced with a false choice between survival and shelter. Discriminatory practices remain regretfully prevalent, preventing the equal access to housing that is afforded to others.
Instead of dis-empowering us, when people experience homelessness we must be given realistic, suitable choices - the same choices that are given to others. When we are offered what will work for us, we will thrive.
3) Peoples aspirations must be realised
It is a tragedy that many people are de-humanised, labelled and treated as something to fix. We should all be treated as humans, recognising that we all have hopes and aspirations.
There are examples across the country of positive approaches that know that we are all skilled and talented human beings with an abundance of wisdom. However, this approach is not always recognised and used.
We must all do our bit to change this. We must ensure that when we work in partnership with others, we focus on our hopes and aspirations, focussing on the skills and talents that we all possess.
We know that we can end homelessness. As the National Advisory Panel to Expert Link, we have a wealth of experience, of disadvantage and exclusion, and of what works in empowering people to make a difference. We are people with a passion to end homelessness, and a passion to work with everyone who shares these values.
We ask you all to join us.
Regular evidence gathering from across the country of the issues facing people experiencing multiple disadvantages.