MPs, peers and influential housing campaigners united in support of the national ‘Homes for Cathy’ campaign at a House of Lords reception that showcased the continuing problem of homelessness.

The reception which took place last week (27th February) saw Lord Kerslake host the acclaimed Cardboard Citizens for an abridged performance of their powerful play ‘Cathy’ – a modern reinterpretation of Ken Loach’s ground-breaking ‘Cathy Come Home’ – fresh from a sold out national tour.

Guests were presented with the ‘Cathy Laws’, ideas for new ways to tackle homelessness compiled from suggestions from Cathy audiences across the country, including from the two St Albans performances in November.

The performance was accompanied by speeches from the Bishop of Rochester, Bob Blackman MP sponsor of the Homelessness Reduction Bill and shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP.

The reception was one of a number of events organised by the ‘Homes for Cathy’ group, an alliance of housing associations who came together to mark the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach’s original 1960s drama and raise awareness of homelessness.

The group includes local organisation, Hightown Housing Association, which was formed in 1967 and merged with Praetorian Housing Association and St Albans District and Churches Housing Association, which were also formed in the late 1960s.

Hightown’s Chief Executive David Bogle, spokesperson for the Homes for Cathy group, said: “The anniversary of ‘Cathy Come Home’ has reminded housing associations of their original purpose: to provide affordable homes to house homeless people. This purpose is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

“120,000 children spent last Christmas in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping is also on the increase.

“I’m grateful to Lord Kerslake for hosting this House of Lords event, as well as to Cardboard Citizens for performing such a thought-provoking drama. I also appreciate the work all the housing associations in Homes for Cathy Group have done to raise awareness of homelessness.”

Hightown manages four services for homeless people in Hertfordshire, including:

  • Open Door, the homelessness service in St Albans which includes an emergency night shelter
  • Martin House in St Albans, for single men over the age of 25
  • Kent House in St Albans, catering for single people and couples over the age of 18
  • Mably House in Hatfield for people in the Welwyn Hatfield area.

It also has a housing development programme that will deliver around 1,000 new affordable homes over the next two years.