Celebrating Our Nomination: Finalists in the Affordable Housing Awards 2023

We are thrilled to announce that we have been nominated as finalists in the prestigious Affordable Housing Awards 2023! This recognition comes in light of our collaborative campaign: “Homelessness in the Countryside – A Hidden Crisis” & the launch of the ‘Rural Homelessness Counts’ Coalition, a joint effort between the English Rural Housing Association, the Universities of Kent & Southampton along with key rural advocates and homelessness charities.

Our campaign aimed to bring the critical issue of rural homelessness to the forefront, challenge misconceptions, and ignite a change in both policy and practice. Our objectives were clear: conduct thorough research into rural homelessness, raise awareness among the public and relevant bodies, and establish a coalition to carry forward the work initiated by our research.

We are proud to share that our efforts greatly surpassed these objectives. Our research unveiled startling statistics, including a 24% rise in rough sleeping in rural areas within a single year, which were encapsulated in our report “Homelessness in the Countryside: A Hidden Crisis.” For the first time, rural homelessness emerged as a national issue, gaining widespread media attention.

A significant hallmark of our campaign’s success was the formation of the ‘Rural Homelessness Counts’ coalition, a robust alliance of 20+ organisations committed to keeping rural homelessness on the national radar and working towards evolving local policy and practice.

Central to our campaign was communication. We converted core research findings into compelling media content, rolled out an engaging social media campaign, and liaised with influential individuals capable of propelling action. Our communication strategies not only amplified awareness about rural homelessness but also positioned rural housing as a pivotal solution, advocating for necessary policy changes.

Our audience was diverse, yet we successfully engaged them through various channels. Our campaign secured coverage on BBC News and 30 other notable outlets, which significantly amplified our message. Moreover, our hashtag #RuralHomelessnessCounts became a rallying cry on social media, achieving nearly 4 million impressions. Through webinars, parliamentary roundtables, and direct engagements with policymakers, we were able to secure public support and key commitments towards addressing rural homelessness.

The past year has indeed been outstanding due to the significant impact of our campaign. We not only heightened awareness about rural homelessness but also catalysed action. The formation of the ‘Rural Homelessness Counts’ coalition stands as a testament to our campaign’s success, aiming to maintain rural homelessness on the national agenda while fostering policy and practice at the local level.

This nomination is a tribute to the ground-breaking research, widespread impact, and tangible changes instigated by our campaign. We are proud to have brought the hidden crisis of rural homelessness into the national limelight, influenced policy discussions, and established a coalition dedicated to addressing the issue.

Being nominated for the Affordable Housing Awards 2023 is not just an honour but a significant recognition of the collaborative efforts between academic institutions and organisations like ours. It demonstrates that even a modest organisation can achieve a high impact when driven by a worthy cause.

As we celebrate this nomination, we remain committed to our mission of tackling rural homelessness and continue to work fervently towards creating a substantial impact in the affordable housing sector. We look forward to the awards ceremony and are incredibly grateful for the recognition of our endeavours in making a difference within the rural communities of England.

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