We asked readers to contribute their ideas on how to tackle the homelessness crisis as part of our Ride Out Recession Alliance. Today we’re sharing The Big Issue reader Judith Parry’s suggestions:
Along my own personal journey, I have gleaned some info about what works for people who are on the edge, who feel powerless and purposeless, voiceless and ignored. I have also by painful experience learned what doesn’t work. There are some fabulous models of community living out there, from the dementia supportive houses in Hogeway in the Netherlands, to Soteria housing, where people with poor mental health are supported to pool resources, space and homes, but not disempowered or infantilised. A recent project by the excellent DIY SOS team, integrating veterans into a community and bringing in extra support for all, is another blueprint.
To get to the point: we need to do housing totally differently. No more little boxes with only one person, or characterless flat-packs with families that don’t even know each other and no community resources, work or leisure. We need to be purposeful in how we design — redesign even — what housing looks like. Loneliness is a blight, and if Covid-19 has done anything for us, it has reconnected us to our neighbours. Let’s build intentional communities, villages of sorts, where this is not only possible, but inevitable. Try it. Start with one. Somewhere in South Wales (to where I will soon be returning) perhaps. A Wellbeing of Future Generations inspired design, with work, and community, and opportunity and learning and creativity embedded in it. Why not have gardens, farm animals, workshops and schools? And shared accommodation for those who would like it. The opportunity for elders to sit with youngsters, alleviating the loneliness, sharing the wisdom, and giving the parents some time to – well, what? Learn, build or just sleep?
Yes, I am an idealist. Maybe even a crazy idealist (is there any other kind?) I have had this blueprint in mind for so very long, but I haven’t known where to start. Maybe this is where. To put it into words, to take the opportunity offered by crisis, and air it more widely. To see if 2020 is the year my vision starts to become reality. What do you think…?
Thanks, and all the best with RORA.
(Idealist, Community Builder and Autist)