Campaign launched to prevent the pain of homelessness

1354282647
03 Dec 2012
by Neil Skinner

Framework has launched a new Christmas campaign to stop people from becoming homeless in the New Year and beyond.

Framework, which works across the East Midlands and in parts of South Yorkshire, has helped more than 1,400 people to avoid the immediate threat of homelessness in the last year – sometimes for as little as £40.

The charity, which offers a range of practical and legal interventions to keep people in their homes, believes that many hundreds of vulnerable people – homeowners and tenants from across the social and demographic spectrum – will find themselves at risk of losing their homes as the economy continues to struggle in 2013 and benefit reforms take hold.

Rosaleen really would have been homeless had it not been for Framework.

Confident in the knowledge that prevention is always better than cure, it is appealing for public support to help it:

  • Provide legal expertise to prevent evictions and repossessions
  • Help vulnerable people live independently and free from the threat of homelessness
  • Provide emergency support for people in crisis – for example those who have suffered a bereavement, accident, illness or serious mental health episode

Framework Operations Director Michael Leng said “Homelessness ruins lives and devastates families. The costs involved, to individuals, to their children and to society as a whole are enormous each and every time somebody loses their home.

“At Christmas people’s thoughts traditionally turn to home and to family. Sadly there are many people out there for whom this Christmas may well be their last in their current home – unless they have somewhere like Framework to turn.

“Homelessness really can happen to anybody, regardless of their age or social background. It can creep up on people or strike them suddenly and unexpectedly. But whatever the cause the impact is always major; it affects local authorities, who in the majority of cases are duty-bound to intervene, and it also has a serious impact on the NHS, the police, the criminal justice system and others besides.

“It really does not cost a lot to help somebody in need. For as little as £40 we can go to court to help someone who, through little or no fault of their own, is faced with the immediate prospect of repossession or eviction.”

I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep... I just kept thinking about how I would survive if they took my home from me. I was going to be made homeless because of someone else’s debt. I had no family to fall back on and just didn’t know where to turn. I really can’t thank Framework enough for what they have done for me. I now know I’ll be safe in this house until I die.

Joan, 73

In the last year (2011/12) Framework helped 1,439 people to avoid the pain of homelessness by offering emergency advice, providing support to maintain accommodation, and by providing advocacy for people faced with repossession or eviction.

Sarah Lloyd, a non-practicing barrister, heads Framework’s Legal Support Team, which represents people in court and also in negotiations with mortgage lenders or landlords. In the last two years her team has represented 306 people in court and enjoyed a 97 per cent success rate in keeping people in their homes. When that has not been possible Framework has endeavoured to make the transition to new accommodation as smooth as possible.

She said: “I recent months we have been giving telephone advice in up to ten cases every day to people who fear they will lose their home because of arrears. This is very worrying at a time when interest rates remain at historically low levels. I would expect the number of people finding themselves in trouble to rise when interest rates return to more normal levels and when changes to the benefit system are implemented. In the vast majority of cases there is something we can do to help – even if the people involved believe their case to be hopeless.”

Joan*, 73, from Worksop, is just one of the people Sarah has helped in recent months. The retired pensioner had signed a guarantor agreement as security against a friend’s sub-prime loan – something that very nearly cost her home. When her friend failed to keep up repayments a bewildered Joan was sent a possession order for her property. Framework challenged the order in court and later negotiated a settlement with the lender.

Joan explained: “I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep... I just kept thinking about how I would survive if they took my home from me. I was going to be made homeless because of someone else’s debt. I had no family to fall back on and just didn’t know where to turn. I really can’t thank Framework enough for what they have done for me. I now know I’ll be safe in this house until I die.”

Framework’s campaign artwork, displayed in several locations in Nottingham City Centre, features a single, simple message uttered by many of the people it has helped: “Without Framework I would be homeless.” We know that without our help more people would experience the pain of homelessness.

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