The burden of insecure accommodation rests most heavily on those on low incomes, with race, disability, and socio-economic status all barriers to safe housing. This situation is dreadful - and getting worse.
I'm Tina Mayers, and I have been working with people living in poor housing for a very long time. Just recently, we read the report from the National Housing Federation on overcrowded housing it caused quite a stir but what was shared is all too familiar to us. We know that far too many children are forced to share beds and that many thousands of families live in very cramped conditions - with little or no privacy or personal space.
The impact of poor housing is all-consuming. It eats away at people, at their mental health and overall well-being. If you take those worries away, people can move forward. That is what we try to do, every day, for the families that come to us.
We run a range of services here for families caught up in this situation. We have after-school and holiday clubs, drop-in sessions for parents and little ones, and offer therapy and legal advice. Our families tell us we are a lifeline for them - a place they can come to feel safe, to feel wanted, to feel part of something - rather than on the outside all the time.
We always make the space for conversation, for a coffee, to listen. That in itself is a big help – people feel heard and seen. We can help them get further support and to manage that bit better.
I have been lucky to be a part of this family, for many years. It is always a joy to see children I supported years ago return to the Centre as young adults, keen to see us and share news of all they are doing - particularly about getting good jobs and earning a living, taking them to better homes and a new beginning.
I like to think that, in some small way, we have helped them progress along the way. That they come back to see us, over and over again, would seem to suggest we did. We continue to be there for them, always ready with the kettle on and the biscuits ready!