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Criminalising squatting has had severe consequences for the homeless, leaving them with no where to go during winter causes mortality rates to rise. Combating the causes of homelessness has never been so important. The Estate Agency Foundation (EAF) who raise money for leading homeless charities Shelter, St. Mungo’s and Broadway, are asking for 100% participation from the whole estate agency industry in order to raise £1.2million per year to change the UK property sector forever.
Common misconceptions of the causes of homelessness are often alcohol and drug related, where the responsibility of social services is wrongly assumed. In reality, the two main causes of homelessness are either a relationship breakdown or sudden unemployment, both of which are very real and could happen to any of us at any time. Furthermore, if the housing benefit system fails families, often many end up in between hostels. Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, comments, “Criminalising squatters has done nothing to address the underlying reasons why vulnerable people squat in the first place – their homelessness and a lack of affordable housing”.
The average life expectancy of someone who is homeless is just 47 for men and 43 for women, compared to the national average of 77 years of age*. A homeless rough sleeper is 35 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person in theUK*. Being homeless is incredibly difficult both physically and mentally and has significant impacts on people’s health and well being. This premature mortality is preventable with greater support not just financially, but providing advice and emotional guidance as well as a free place to stay during difficult times.
Sean Newman, an EAF Ambassador, comments, “If every one of theUK’s 10,000 (approximate) estate agency offices donated just £10 a month, the industry could raise £1.2 million in just one year alone. If £100 was donated a month, that figure would be an astonishing £12 million. The potential to help others is so great and it is our social responsibility as Estate Agents to strive to make a difference.”
Some estate agents have raised money for the EAF and other charities through payroll giving, where optional agent donations on wage slips can be made. Some have also given the same option to a seller’s invoice, with a box to tick if a donation would like to be added on top. This has been a marked success already for some agencies, alongside this summer’s industry efforts taking part in the Zoopla Great British Property Cycle, covering over 2,000 miles and helping raise an incredible £80,000. Such sponsorship events are an easy way to make fundraising enjoyable, allowing the whole community to take part and see the fantastic efforts each agency undertakes.
The combination of the continuing economic downturn and the coalition Government’s cuts to welfare, particularly housing benefit, means homelessness is on the rise again so the time to act is now. The industry hopes that all estate agents will pledge support for theUKhomeless epidemic and donate.
Find out more by visiting www.eafcharity.org or speak to your personnel or payroll department about voluntary donations.
The EAF sees a future where everyone has a place they call home. Every two minutes someone faces losing their home which is hardly surprising when we look at the increase in house prices, if milk had risen at the same rate it would cost £9.71. Whilst society needs to address the issue of 99,500 newly homeless people in the UKtoday, the EAF seeks to go further and help eliminate the causes of homelessness. Charities supported by the EAF include: Broadway (London based), Shelter and St Mungo’s. For more information please visit www.eafcharity.org
Crisis (1996), Still Dying for a Home http://www.streetsoflondon.org.uk/about-homelessness
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