Introducing our new guest editors: JustUs homelessness charity

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JustUs (L-R: Katie Welbourn, John Allen, Shannon Johnstone and Mike Hyden)

This month, we welcome a new series from our latest guest editor – or in this case, editors.

Throughout the next eight weeks, we are handing over these pages to JustUs, an advocacy charity that supports homeless people in Bedford Borough. We’ll be publishing contributions from people of all ages with the aim of portraying a different viewpoint of homelessness.

We hope these stories will give our readers a new perspective on the issues faced, particularly by young people and families.

Set up by Mike Hyden and John Allen in 2014, JustUs now has a team of four workers supporting between 30 and 40 active clients, aiming to get them into accommodation.

The charity runs housing law workshops to help other agencies better represent homeless clients including those fleeing domestic violence or whose financial situation has changed.

“Since 2013 there has been a 72% national increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation,” said Mike.

“In Bedford, that figure is over 450%. And we believe there is a direct correlation between the challenges we have made and the huge increase in the number of people being housed.

“By raising things in the way we have, the Mayor and council have invested in temporary accommodation.

“We see this as a huge success – we’ve highlighted the way in which vulnerable people are often left homeless unlawfully, which tragic results, which has incentivised the Council to find more long-term housing.”

However, with 650,000 empty homes in the UK and 95,000 homeless families in temporary accommodation, it’s not rocket science to work out there is a solution to the problem.

“At JustUs we believe that there is only one route out of homelessness and that is, quite obviously safe, secure housing,” said Mike.

“It’s not a great leap to think that if we can enact sanctions on Russia overnight, we can make legislative changes to free those properties up.”

Our first story from our Guest Editors will be published next week.

If you would like to become a future Guest Editor at the Bedford Independent, we’d love to hear from you. Please email news@bedfordindpendent.co.uk to start the conversation.

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