Ollie Gray: Anger over carpet being ripped out of social housing
Ollie Gray, business development director at Charis, provides his response to the recent story concerning carpets being ripped out of social housing, and not replaced.
A recent article stated how 1.2 million people living in social housing in the UK have no carpet or flooring in their bedrooms or living areas. 4.8 million were living without at least one item of essential furniture.
One of the most distressing aspects of poverty is how it can strip the individual of any sense of control or power over their life. In normal circumstances you move into a property, it needs new carpets, you go out to a supplier, choose what you want and then have it delivered and fitted.
Private landlords and social housing associations are obliged to provide a property with carpets or other suitable floor covering. This makes the individual household reliant on their particular landlord to fulfil that obligation, and that can take time. In the meantime, the tenant and their family are left living in substandard conditions.
This erosion of an individual’s sense of agency over their own life can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Too often we hear about the increase in mental health, and as the impact of poverty compounds over time, that mental distress compounds in direct response.
The evolution of the Charis Shop is founded on the goal of giving back that sense of dignity to individuals who are struggling with the cost of living and find themselves in vulnerable situations. Establishing links with retailers such as Carpetright, Ikea, Argos and B&Q enables housing associations to issue vouchers which enable their residents to choose and order their own home furnishings - which in turn amplifies a sense of pride and ownership.
From bedroom furniture and bedding to kettles, supermarket shops to DIY vouchers, householders have the support to take back control of their immediate environment without being overly dependent on their landlord.
For housing associations, social landlords and charities, the Charis Shop significantly frees up both time and money in dealing with applications for hardship vouchers. Applications that used to take days, if not weeks, can be made and approved within minutes, and the voucher issued immediately.
For anyone living without any essential item, we suggest they approach either their landlord or housing association, or local Citizens Advice to see if there is a hardship fund available which they can access for support, and if it can be applied for through the Charis Shop. Applications can be processed within minutes, and the voucher issued to your mobile phone via a text message immediately. No waiting, no chasing.