On the 18th May 2023, the Bristol Poverty Institute (BPI) delivered a thought-provoking event on Housing, ‘Home’ and Poverty bringing together representatives from different sectors and backgrounds to explore the intersections between poverty and elements of housing, the concept of home, and other related issues. The event featured expert speakers, breakout sessions, and facilitated breakout discussions on a range of poverty-related themes. You can access resources from the event, including slides from the speakers’ presentations and the videos featuring Christopher Burns on the BPI website.
The event kicked off with a scene-setting introduction from the Manager and Director of the BPI, Dr Lauren Winch and Professor David Gordon. Following an introduction to the Bristol Poverty Institute itself from Lauren, David provided an overview of research that explores the intersection between housing and poverty, highlighting that half of all children in social and private rented accommodation. Hitting close to home, David outlined how deprivation in Bristol led to a higher COVID-19 mortality rate.
We then heard from Christopher Burns, who had kindly sent the BPI a short video introducing his lived experience around housing and poverty. The BPI would once again like to take this opportunity to thank Christopher for his valuable and poignant contributions, as well as thanking the Addressing Poverty with Lived Experience (APLE) Collective for putting us in touch with Christopher. Christopher also featured in the second video shown at the event from Inside Housing’s ‘Give Poverty a Voice’ campaign, which echoed many people’s concerns surrounding rising energy prices and fuel poverty where he described how he uses his art through APLE to share his experiences, his perspectives, and his feelings, and how it is a form of escapism for him.
The event then moved onto our speaker presentations. First, we heard from Dr Beth Stone, Lecturer in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, who gave an engaging presentation on Homelessness and Disability in the UK. Beth’s presentation was solution-oriented, explaining the core issues in the relationship between homelessness and disability, examining the barriers to effective support and relief, and highlighting the practical steps to address the challenges.
The BPI were then delighted to welcome Dr Darren Baxter, Principal Policy Adviser (Housing and Land) at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Darren’s illuminating presentation on Making a home in a broken housing market offered invaluable insights into how we can achieve equitable housing for all, emphasising how inequalities in wealth are exacerbating an already dire situation. Darren discussed his opinions on the route to equitable housing, which involved a better managed private rented sector, diversify home ownership, and support low-income renters.
Following a refreshment break, filled with engaged discussion (and excellent cookies!) the attendees reconvened in the main room where BPI Manager Lauren provided an overview of the upcoming breakout sessions. We then divided into five groups exploring different themes related to the overarching topic of Housing, ‘Home’ and Poverty.
During the breakout sessions, participants addressed thought-provoking questions to delve deeper into housing and poverty-related issues such as financial resilience, social inclusion, and policy engagement. These included exploring the intersection of housing and ‘home’ with specific topics, identifying challenges, discussing potential research questions, and considering the role of the BPI in supporting these initiatives. The general discussion covered the responsibility of universities in addressing rising housing costs and the essential elements a comprehensive UK housing and home policy should include.
The breakout discussions were animated and engaging, and there was a real buzz in the main room when we came back together for a debrief and sharing of key messages from the breakout groups. The event was then brought to a close with a fantastic presentation from the University of Bristol’s Professor Alex Marsh, who provided an engaging summary of the event embedded within his own reflections on the topic and key issues.
Attendees then continued the conversation at networking drinks, exploring the topics of the day, and identifying potential spaces for collaboration and routes to impact. The Housing, ‘Home,’ and Poverty event brought together passionate individuals to discuss pressing issues and explore collaborative solutions. The insights and recommendations shared during the talks, breakout sessions, and plenary discussions provide a foundation for future action. We are really looking forward to carrying these discussions forward and working towards creating a fairer and more inclusive society, where housing and a home are accessible to all.