Tyne Housing Association (THA), which provides supported housing and day services for vulnerable people, has joined a consortium of other registered housing providers in the ‘Homes for Cathy’ group.
The national group consisting of 20 social landlords, was set up in the 1960’s following the ‘Cathy Come Home’ BBC television drama in 1966. This November will mark the 50th anniversary of the production that highlighted the plight of a homeless family and inspired people to form housing associations.
The play, directed by Ken Loach, led to a public outcry about the problem of homelessness. The country united and people came together – often in partnership with their local churches – to form housing associations in their communities to provide homes for homeless people.
Despite housing associations and others building hundreds and thousands of homes over the last 50 years, the problem of homelessness has not gone away. More and more families are being accepted as homeless by local authorities up and down the country, and last Christmas over 100,000 children were living in temporary accommodation.
According to a report released by DCLG, there were 57,750 households accepted as Statutorily Homeless in the financial year 2015-16 – a rise from 54,430 (6%) from the previous year. This represents the sixth consecutive annual rise. Although the number of homeless households is slowly reducing here in the North East, the national figure has risen by 54% since 2010.
THA’s homelessness service provides housing, support, employment and training for homeless and vulnerable adults across Tyneside and Northumberland. In the last financial year, 1,077 people applied to access THA’s housing and support services – helping them to live independently in their own homes, secure employment and support their families.
Tom Davis, 40 of Farm View in Byker moved into supported housing by THA in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since. Between the ages of 18-31, he led a life of crime and spent most of his time in and out of prison. He had a drug and alcohol addiction which led to more crime and homelessness when he wasn’t in prison. Tom explains that if support and accommodation had not been offered, his story would have been very different to today.
He said, “I was determined to stay out of jail for good. The last time I was released, I decided I wanted to change my life so went into a homeless hostel provided by THA. I lived there for a year before moving into a supported house – I felt ready and able to manage in a smaller shared house. It was much better for me to go into a shared house with support instead of going into somewhere on my own with no support, I hated being on my own at the time.”
Marie Graham, Deputy Chief Executive of THA, said: “The original drama series of Cathy Come Home highlighted the issues of homelessness and here we are today, fifty years on, and the same problems still exist in our society.
“The correct systems and structures need to be put in place to provide the required support to homeless and vulnerable people like Tom who has successfully gone on to change his life. Despite the number of new homes being built across the country, there is still not enough being done to help the homeless and we, like all the other landlords as part of the Homes for Cathy group, hope to raise even more awareness of the continuing needs of homeless people across the country and in particular, here in Tyneside and Northumberland.”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the television drama series, Tyneside Cinema will be showing a special screening of ‘Cathy Come Home’ in November and further details will be announced soon.