Council cut Funding to Youth Homeless Charity

“Before being housed I was sofa surfing and putting myself in dangerous situations. I was going to kill myself if I could not be housed. SHYPP helped me to turn my life around and go to university.”

These are the words of Laura one of the many young people helped by local charity SHYPP (Supported Housing for Young Peoples Project). SHYPP works with 16 – 25 year olds across Herefordshire. They provide advice, housing, training and employment opportunities as a way of tackling youth homelessness. SHYPP also provides a range of accommodation for young people including foyer accommodation, move on flats, shared houses and supported lodgings.

Unfortunately the importance of these services has been over looked by Herefordshire Council who revealed last week that they plan to cut their funding to SHYPP by 66%.

Herefordshire Council has already shown its utter disregard for young people when it closed the Youth Support Service. But further cuts like the ones proposed to SHYPP will leave young people without the support and advice that this service offers

These cuts will have a massive impact on the ability of SHYPP to help some of the most vulnerable people in Herefordshire.

“This is a significant cut for SHYPP and will put key areas of our service at risk.” Tracey Brumwell SHYPP Central Team Manager told the Heckler. “In particular they are proposing to de-commission our floating support service which is the key preventative work we do with young people, this is where we provide housing, benefits and debt support to young people across Herefordshire working to prevent them from becoming homeless. They are also proposing cuts to our foyer services.”

Campaigners are hoping that people will put pressure on their local councillor to reverse the decision and continue to support the vital service SHYPP provide. An online petition has been set up and can be accessed here.

For more information visit SHYPP’s facebook page here

Luther Blissett


Cover the county in council housing!

Rural social housingLast month Herefordshire Council published its updated housing targets, revising the figures to show a parish-by-parish breakdown rather than those for individual settlements.

Crucially though the total number of dwellings it’s allowing to be built by 2031 is still a questionable 5,300.

New builds and permissions granted since April 2011 are also included in this total, meaning an average of only 265 houses per year is being allowed county-wide.

That’s all very well in terms of the environmental impact, and it is certainly the case that the fewer number of houses built, the better it is for our surroundings and the planet. But what about the people.

Well, data released by Herefordshire Council themselves in September 2014 showed that annual need for affordable housing across the county stood at 692 units per year. Not only does this greatly exceed the allotted 265 per year, it totally outstrips supply: just 39 units of low-cost housing where built in the first half of 2014/15, an annual shortfall of 614 properties. We’re just not getting enough housing.

These figures don’t take into account the demand for Gypsy and traveller pitches: 83 additional sites were said to be needed between 2008 to 2012. As of the end of September last year only 47 had been created.

And while the average two-bed property rented from a housing association in Herefordshire costs £78.10 per week, the same property in the private sector can cost around £145 – close to double the amount! It’s too expensive.

What Herefordshire needs is a large number of new socially-owned, low-cost, energy-efficient dwellings across the county to really start sorting the housing problem. What we get is developers building large, expensive homes for the well-off middle classes.

Stop building these homes! They’re not what’s needed. Start providing for local working class people instead!

No hope for new housing in a county plagued by NIMBYs

Lugwardine campaignIt is fast becoming a weekly feature in the Hereford Times: the ‘local residents concerned about homes plan’ story.

And the details are always the same: a developer submits plans to build a small number of houses in a village; local people trot out the obligatory ‘we’re not opposed to new homes’ line, ‘they’re just in the wrong place’ apparently. Aren’t they always.

The paper’s 2nd April edition was no exception, and it was the villagers of Cradley who were complaining about plans for 60 houses this time.

The village only needed 38 houses by 2018, claimed resident Nic Calvert. Though where his statistic comes from he doesn’t say.

Yet only 120 affordable homes were built in Herefordshire in the whole of 2014, according to housing charity Shelter.

Sixty-one would-be households are currently homeless across the county, and over half of those are families with children. This is not taking into account the thousands of local people that are perennially on the social housing waiting list.

The truth is we need more affordable homes and a lot more social housing in Herefordshire, and these need to be built somewhere.

What would be steady and sustainable is for the towns and many villages around the county to take on a small number of new dwellings each, proportional to the size of the existing settlement, and thereby spreading the load. This minor increase in a village’s population would have the added benefit of helping support the local shop, school and pub. What it means in reality is that a lot of people will need to have new flats or houses built near them. And if that bothers some people, perhaps they should become advocates for population control and a worldwide one-child policy.

The increasingly commonplace photo opportunity of the happy villagers who have defeated a developer’s plans to build in a nearby field illustrates only one side of the story. The other is one of misery for the thousands of families locally that don’t have a home they can call their own, sharing with parents or living in cramped accommodation.

There are of course many legitimate reasons why a housing development might not be best on a certain patch of land, but the selfish ‘not in my back yard’ attitude that seems to infest many planning objections is ugly and symptomatic of the uncaring, unwelcoming, heartless society we’ve become.

Tenants & Homeless seize abandoned council house

In the early hours of Monday morning, activists appalled at the crackdown on homeless beggars and the council’s lack of action to create badly needed new homes seized one of Birmingham’s 11,000[4] empty properties. The group calling themselves Birmingham Tenants and Homeless Action Group issued a statement on their website[1] condemning the City Council for failing to take action to help the growing homeless population of Birmingham, which has risen by 25%[2] since 2009.

 Claire Lister, 23, an activist involved with Birmingham Tenants and Homeless Action Group, said, “Homelessness is on the rise and the council is effectively doing nothing, worse – homeless charities have been cut by 29%[2]. Birmingham already has the highest rate of homelessness in the UK[3] and with the incoming housing benefit cuts even more people are going to be at risk of becoming homeless.”

The group are doing up the property to hand over to a homeless person. They say the council, who owns the property, should put it back into use immediately as social housing. Andy Hamilton, 23, said, “This property has been left empty for years now; there is nothing wrong with it. People are living rough on the streets they are getting very ill and even dying. We want this house and others like it to be put back into use right-away to help tackle the housing crisis.”.John Holland ,25, said “A roof over your head should be a right. 11,000 houses are lying empty[4]; – this place mustn’t be left empty when it could house a family.”

The group are demanding the council put back into use as social housing as many of the 11,000 empty homes as possible to deal with the growing homeless problem.

As of the 1st September a new law (Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 [5]) will come into effect making it illegal to squat residential properties. The group condemn the new law saying that squatting is used by many homeless people as a means of keeping a roof over their heads, the new law is in effect targeting and marginalising society’s most vulnerable.


Birmingham Tenants & Homeless Action Group
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From Indymedia UK

Homeless hostel closed by Cameron

‘We’re all in it together’ … apparently. Yet none of us can see David Cameron and all his rich mates losing their homes. Which is precisely what’s happened to eight people in Hereford after the city’s only homeless hostel for men closed its doors at the end of February.

Cuts in housing benefit grants have meant Hope Scott House, on Roman Road, is now unable to cover the costs of the project, pushing already homeless men into a state of absolute destitution. This is what your cuts are doing, David Cameron!

It costs around £50,000 a year to keep the hostel open. Perhaps our millionaire MP, Jesse ‘I live in a massive house in leafy Broomy Hill’ Norman will put his hands in his pockets and show just how much he really cares about the people of Hereford!