Hightown Housing Association put homelessness at the top of its agenda on Monday 25 March when their Chief Executive, David Bogle, chaired the annual Homes for Cathy conference. The event is one of the UK’s biggest meetings of leaders and practitioners from housing associations, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations whose joint aim is to help end the UK’s homelessness crisis.

More than 130 delegates united at the TUC Congress Centre in central London to share real examples of the work being done to end the growing UK homelessness crisis.  Speakers included homeless charity Crisis’ Chief Executive, Jon Sparkes, who flagged up the shocking statistic that 170,000 families and individuals across Britain are currently experiencing homelessness, stressing that ‘social housing is the last line of defence against homelessness’ and challenging housing associations to change their eviction and lettings policies to do as much as they can to avoid making people homeless.

Delegates also heard from former UN Human Rights Rapporteur on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo, who gave a global perspective on the issues surrounding homelessness, stating that housing is more than a place to live and needs to be framed as ‘a human right, not a financial asset’. 

Daisy May-Hudson, Director of the documentary ‘Halfway’, showed a scene from the film and spoke about her own family’s experiences of life in a homeless hostel after their landlord sold their home and served them an eviction notice. The director, named as one of Bafta’s breakthrough Brits, explained the feeling of shock and realisation that becoming homeless can happen to anyone.

David Bogle, Chief Executive of Hightown Housing Association and chair of the conference, said:

“Hightown is honoured to be one of the lead organisations involved in the Homes for Cathy group, a national alliance of housing associations from across the UK who are all committed to ending homelessness.  The conference represents one of the most important dates in the group’s calendar and an opportunity to discuss practical measures we can all put in place to help prevent people from becoming homeless in our local communities.”

First established in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach’s landmark drama documentary Cathy Come Home, Homes for Cathy works alongside campaigning organisations and charities including the National Housing Federation, Crisis and Shelter in lobbying government for additional resources to help tackle homelessness and supports local authorities in their statutory homeless responsibilities.