Crisis launches covenant to help employers support those facing homelessness

Crisis launches covenant to help employers support those facing homelessness

A set of pledges employers can take to support people experiencing homelessness in the workplace has been launched by Crisis.

Developed in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the Homelessness Covenant aims to help employers prevent and end homelessness through supportive employment policies.

Businesses including Pret A Manger, Monzo and Thames Water helped draft the Covenant as members of the advisory board, along with those with lived experience of homelessness.

By signing up to the Covenant, employers will be able to build their understanding of what homelessness is and recognise and support employees who may be at risk of it. They can also pledge to provide employment and training opportunities for people at risk of homelessness, adopt fairer recruitment and employment opportunities, as well as helping end homelessness in their communities through fundraising, raising awareness, partnerships and volunteering.

Previous research from Crisis revealed that over half of the employers interviewed believed that only those rough sleeping were experiencing homelessness. In reality, there are many forms of homelessness, such as being stuck in temporary accommodation or forced to sleep on friends and families’ sofas, with a lack of genuinely affordable homes contributing to this situation. As of March this year, almost one in four (24%) of households facing homelessness were in work according to Government data – a total of 19,500 households. In addition, in the past two years there has been a 21% rise in working households who are facing homelessness.

The UK Government’s minister for social mobility, youth and progression, Mims Davies MP said “This government is rightly tackling homelessness by helping people into permanent accommodation through financial and housing support.

“Employment and progression is key to preventing and ending homelessness and this new and vital Covenant will give employers the knowledge they need to support employees at risk of losing their home or rough sleeping.

“We need businesses large and small to lean in to help end homelessness, and I urge them to sign up to being part of the Covenant and help us by playing their part in opening up opportunities for all, and further supporting employees in difficult times and those keen to get into the labour market.”

Experiencing homelessness while working has a huge impact on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. People experiencing homelessness are often anxious and exhausted when at work due to the mental toll of trying to hide their current circumstances and the constant struggle of trying to manage daily activities like eating, sleeping and washing.

Many people living in temporary accommodation are often placed far from their place of work, leaving them with long commutes which are often costly and tiring. This often means that people are unable to build meaningful relationships with colleagues and are reluctant to turn to their employer for support out of fear of losing their job.

Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to be launching the Homelessness Covenant to support and educate employers on homelessness. With almost one in four households in-work experiencing homelessness, it is vital that businesses understand all forms of homelessness – such as sofa-surfing and living in temporary accommodation - to ensure that their employees at risk can receive the support they need.

“Those in work and experiencing homelessness face a huge battle – many choose to conceal their circumstances out of fear they could lose their jobs, leaving them isolated from their colleagues. Daily activities like eating, sleeping and washing become extremely difficult to manage and often become a huge strain on their physical and mental wellbeing.

“We need everyone to play a part in tackling homelessness, and this includes businesses and employers providing the right assistance to staff when they fall on hard times. We hope that the Homelessness Covenant will offer employers the right tools to support

Minister for housing and homelessness, Felicity Buchan MP, said: “We are committed to ending homelessness for good. Businesses have an important role to play in helping to end homelessness: by supporting existing employees who may be at risk of homelessness and by providing employment opportunities for those who have experienced homelessness.

“I encourage businesses to sign up as it will provide the tools and guidance staff need and also empower employees to come forward knowing advice and support is available.”

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