When you have children you find things start hitting home a bit more. I used to watch Children in Need for the celebrity performances and videos of people sitting in baths of cold baked beans, but as soon as I held my first child I couldn’t watch without bawling my eyes out at the videos of the children who needed the charities help. After the show I would think about how I could help, but after calling in to donate and emptying my bank account of that whole £2 that was in it, this was put out of my mind come the morning in favour of remembering who my eldest has a playdate with that week and what foods my youngest currently can’t eat!
Recently in my interior design business I have been creating a lot of child centred spaces, bedroom, playrooms and nurseries. During these commissions I did some research about how children having a space to call their own was important. What actually came up on my screen was yet more scary stories. Stories featuring statistics like; 150 families every day in the UK face homelessness. That’s 150 children, minimum, everyday not knowing when they wake up in the morning where they will be laying their head that night. This knocked me for six and no amount of diary conflicts and food allergies could keep it out of my mind.
When a basic human right, like having a roof over yours and your children’s head is controlled by some of the wealthiest people in the country, when a basic human right is advertised as a way to make quick high profits, then of course the poorest and most vulnerable in society are going to suffer because of this. Let us not also forget that one day, even we, could be the poorest and the most vulnerable in society, as reported we are all only two pay packets away from homelessness.
I knew that this time, I had to do something, things have to change, but all I know how to do is to make houses in to homes. That’s when it struck me that that is literally all these children and their families need; homes – safe, secure, stable homes.
So I set up a non-profit crowdfunder project (www.crowdfunder.co.uk/family-homes) with the aim of achieving £1,000,000 in 5 weeks. £1,000,000 to set up a sustainable self-financing non-profit organisation. The initial £1,000,000 will provide 2 x 2/3 bedroom properties in my local area of West Sussex and four 2/3 bedroom houses across the rest of the UK. These will all be rented for an amount in line with the governments housing benefits cap. The money will also be used purchase one holiday lodge in Cornwall and one in Wales which will be rented on a pay what you can afford basis, this will give all families the chance to afford to take a break from their ‘reality’ at any time of the year. Annually 10% of all profits will be sent to the amazing charity Shelter and the rest will be put back in to the organisation to buy more homes for more homeless families.
I have been told by ‘experts’ that £1,000,000 is an impossible amount to achieve, but until the 9th of June has passed I am not giving up on it and even when it has passed this project is so much more than just a crowdfunder now, it’s my life’s work. If I could hope for one thing that my son’s see me do, it’s this. It’s being charitable, it’s caring for those less fortunate then us, it’s believing in humanity and giving to society, it’s making the society we live in a community again.