As we reflect on the events of Rural Housing Week 2023, we are filled with a sense of accomplishment and renewed purpose.
🤝 The week kicked off with the launch of the Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition, a pioneering initiative aimed at tackling the hidden crisis of rural homelessness. The coalition is a testament to our commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has access to safe and affordable housing.
🌳 We then turned our attention to empowering landowners, a crucial stakeholder in the rural housing challenge. We released a resource guide that provides practical advice for landowners on how they can contribute to addressing the rural housing shortage. The guide emphasises the role of landowners as a solution for affordable rural housing in England, highlighting the potential of their land to provide much-needed homes.
🚜 Midweek, we celebrated the unlocking of the countryside with Sarah Palmer from the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. Sarah’s passion for rural life and her commitment to helping young people thrive in rural areas is truly inspiring.
🍰 We also took a moment to appreciate the art of house building with our ‘Great British House Build‘ initiative. Building an affordable rural home is much like baking a cake. It’s a meticulous process that begins with a carefully crafted recipe—our plan. We gather premium ingredients—land, funds, and community support—and preheat the oven—the approval process. Just as baking faces potential objectors who may dislike the scent, we navigate those who resist development. Patience and expertise come into play as we bake—or build, and just like icing adds an aesthetic appeal to a cake, our homes blend into the local style. Lastly, we serve the cake—we move people in, ensuring everyone gets a piece of this community delight. It’s a complex recipe, but the result serves the whole community.
🏡 Our focus then shifted to the promise of Rural Exception Sites (RES). In collaboration with University College London, we shared early insights from research investigating the role of RES as a key solution for the affordable housing crisis in rural England. The research highlighted the importance of engaging landowners in RES and proposed recommendations for a more robust affordable rural housing strategy.
💷 We also took time to acknowledge the profound socio-economic value of investing in affordable rural homes. For every ten new affordable homes built, the economy is boosted by £1.4 million, 26 jobs are supported, and £250,000 in government revenue is generated. Our construction projects are much more than physical development; they act as economic catalysts powering job creation and bolstering the government’s purse.
❤️ As the week drew to a close, we shared some personal stories. Gordon, Marie, and Franc each shared their unique journeys, highlighting the transformative power of affordable rural housing. From Gordon’s transition from being a mere lodger to a cherished community member, to Marie’s journey from an untenable housing situation to a comfortable, secure home, and Franc’s inspiring journey from homelessness to hope, these stories underscore how rural housing doesn’t just offer a place to live – it provides a sanctuary, a sense of belonging, and an affirmation of individual identity.
👍 As we look back on Rural Housing Week 2023, we are reminded of the importance of our work and the impact it has on individuals and communities. We are committed to continuing our efforts to provide affordable, quality housing in rural areas, and we look forward to the progress we will make in the coming year.