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Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'

Akins House recently opened its doors in Nottingham after cash raised at Beat the Streets festival helped charity Framework get the development over the line

Beat the Streets Festival has raised more than £500,000 to tackle homelessness n Nottingham since it was set up in 2018. Image: Beat the Streets Festival

New flats for rough sleepers in Nottingham have opened their doors after a music festival raised funds to ensure the development was finished.

The block of eight purpose-built flats at Akins House opened at the end of April thanks to the cash raised by the annual one-day music festival Beat the Streets.

The flats are named after local businessmen George and Sean Akins, who run the local live music promoter DHP Family. The pair launched Beat the Streets in 2018 and have raised £500,000 to tackle homelessness since then.

Akins House is a home for rough sleepers in Nottingham
George Akins (left) and brother Sean set up Beat the Streets to plug funding gaps for Framework. Image: Framework

The £89,500 raised at Beat the Streets in January 2023 was essential in enabling the £1.4m building project to go ahead after rising costs left it in danger of going uncompleted.

Framework’s deputy chief executive Claire McGonigle said: “The contribution of DHP Family to our work with rough sleepers in Nottingham since 2018 has been remarkable, vital and unprecedented. Never before has a private business supported our work in this way or to this extent.

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“Framework is really committed to developing really good quality properties for people who are at risk of homelessness or homeless. Over the last couple of years, the environment to do that stuff has gotten harder and harder. Cost of living pressures, labour shortages, materials, prices going up, all of that is affecting everybody.

“We got to the point with Akins House where the development itself was struggling in terms of whether we would be able to get it over the line because of these pressures that emerged during the development period. DHP Family stepped in really – their donation from Beat the Street made sure that we got that development finished and to make sure it was done to the really high standards that we like.”

Akins House is a home for rough sleepers in Nottingham
The permanent homes will offer rough sleepers a places to live alongside support for addiction and mental health issues to help them transition into independent life. Image: Framework

Music festival Beat the Streets has been running for six years, taking place on the last Sunday of every January. The one-day event sees funds raised from tickets, bar sales and merchandising used to house and support rough sleepers.

The cash raised from 2023’s event came just as Framework was looking to start work on the eight flats last summer as construction prices soared thanks to rising inflation amid the cost of living crisis.

Although the project had core capital funding from the government’s Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme and support from Nottingham City Council, the cash raised from Beat the Streets was essential in kicking off work.

The flats were recently completed and will offer a permanent home for residents to live independently alongside drug, alcohol and mental health support and employment guidance.

Framework also has three more projects underway in Nottingham and Lincoln.

DHP Family managing director George Akins told the Big Issue he was moved to set up Beat the Streets after noticing a rise in homelessness on Nottingham’s streets in 2017.

Since then, several hundred people experiencing homelessness have received support from the £500,000 raised collectively.

“I just thought we could raise what we could each year,” he said. “I don’t think we ever thought we were going to solve anything, we were just going to try and plug some gaps, that’s what we were attempting really.

Akins House is a home for rough sleepers in Nottingham
The eight flats for rough sleepers at Akins House opened their doors in April. Image: Framework

“We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to raise significant numbers each year for Framework and we’re really happy that we’ve been able to help in areas where we know they need help. So that’s been fantastic. Thank you to all the artists, attendees and staff who have contributed time, effort, and money to make our fundraising so successful.

“But just generally, it’s just a problem and it’s never going to go away it seems and it’s just getting worse and worse. If we could do more, we would.”

Nottingham City Council declared itself bankrupt in November amid a wave of local authorities struggling to balance the books with some citing the costs of homelessness as a leading factor.

McGonigle told the Big Issue Framework has a strong relationship with the council but the “unprecedented situation” is a “worry”.

She added: “We are watching with bated breath and wondering whether all of our services will be okay to pass the next few months if we’re honest.”

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