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An image is worth a thousand words: CoP members share their stories

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

On the 13 and 14 July, we held our Community of Practice (CoP) conference on the theme of ‘A Safe Place to Be’, celebrating our members’ work to tackle homelessness and insecure shelter. This blog summarises our first session, showcasing pictures and videos that illustrated their successes and learnings.

Why do Funded Partners do what they do? Where do they start?

LHC Foundation Trust (I CARE) talked about how they established the Hope Centre as a starting point, a place where the street youth can come to receive guidance, assistance and psychosocial intervention – “the beginning of the journey on our cycle of hope”. This both contributed to create a place of safety for young people on the streets, but also became a symbol of how they wanted to provide stability and a better future for their clients. The timing seemed important in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and the particular vulnerability that young people on the streets faced during that time.

Saying goodbye to Homelessness

Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) and Habitat Humanity Zambia brought similar pictures to the conference. MHT’s works towards strengthening grassroots collectives of women in the urban informal sector to advance constructive dialogue and action on improving their housing, living and working environments. Habitat for Humanity Zambia is a non-profit housing organisation with a goal of ensuring that everyone has a decent place to live. They both have a particular focus on women and disadvantaged groups.

Their pictures depict their aims to ensure adequate and safe housing for people at risk of homelessness. In the picture from Habitat Humanity Zambia (right), this woman has been trained in land and housing rights, and supported to obtain an occupancy license, giving formal recognition of her tenure rights. As Habitat for Humanity Zambia said, she is saying: “bye bye to homelessness… bye bye to poverty… I am settled, I am safe”.

In the picture from MHT (left), a woman is showing an identity card that proves citizenship in India. Often people experiencing homelessness lack a residential address which is a major constraint for them to avail this card. In Ahmedabad, MHT mobilised homeless communities through sensitisation meetings to obtain various social security schemes and to improve living conditions. To avail this document, the address is provided with the support of local authority. With this identity document, people can obtain various social security schemes and can also apply for opening a bank account.

Supporting people at the edge of homelessness

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is a UK-based charity that works towards a better understanding of child poverty. CPAG provides information and technical support to frontline organisations on welfare rights via published materials, seminars, conferences and training sessions. CPAG works to improve the quality of knowledge available to frontline organisations that are supporting families in poverty to navigate bureaucratic benefits systems. Improved access to benefits is a key protection against homelessness.

This picture illustrates CPAG dealing with frontline advisers in local authorities, in charities, and other frontline groups. CPAG can support frontline groups, mediate with governments and take legal action if needed.

Preventing homelessness during the pandemic

Tshwane Leadership Foundation (TLF) aims at preventing and ending homelessness “one person and one community at a time” in Tshwane (South Africa), focusing on elderly people and young people with psycho-social challenges. It aims at educating people experiencing homelessness about their rights and prevent homelessness through citywide partnerships.

Their video showed “the chaos” that the city of Tshwane experienced during the pandemic. TLF consequently worked towards tackling homelessness though advocacy, litigation and tailored housing responses. They developed 29 Covid-19 shelters within days of the start of the pandemic, and they also prevented several forceful evictions. They are continuing training grassroots activists so they can, themselves, protect their communities.

The photos and videos that CoP members showcased brought different organisations’ work to life - It was a great opening to the CoP Conference! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. If you would like to tell us how your work resonates with this, leave us a comment below.

The CoP Team

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