Educating our young people about homelessness

As the Homelessness Reduction Act is written into law, Hastoe Chief Executive Sue Chalkley urges everyone to share materials created by a group of housing associations to raise awareness of housing need and homelessness.  

To be without a home is a profoundly disabling experience for too many people. And it is increasing – by just one measure, the number of rough sleepers alone has doubled in the past six years.

The enormity of the causes, the experiences and the consequences has the potential to overwhelm us, as individuals, if not as organisations. There are many working tirelessly to provide solutions and to add to this response, the Homes for Cathy group has produced an Education Pack for teenagers.

By way of introduction, the Homes for Cathy group of housing associations ( was set up last year to mark the 50 year anniversary of the BBC broadcasting Cathy Come Home.  This film affected the public conscious in a way that no other film has ever done and caused the establishment of more than 60 housing associations by churches (imagine that today) and many others too.  Our members are associations that were established in that era.

We need that passion and energy as much now as we ever did. As individuals we can each do at least one thing.  We can circulate the Homes for Cathy Education Pack to everyone we know who works with teenagers – be that in schools or youth groups.  The pack has four modules which can be used independently or as a set:

  1. What is homelessness? This aims to provide an understanding of what homelessness means and challenges some misperceptions. It develops research skills and the ability to prepare a mini documentary for social media
  2. Cathy Come Home, the film: This considers, from different perspectives, the chain of events that led to the loss of a home, the breakdown of the family and the children being taken into care. A Board game is designed to show the spiral of events and a message video is created for television or/and social media.
  3. Help! I am homeless: The young people create a storyboard illustrating someone’s journey to becoming homeless. They research what help is available and where to find different kinds of advice and support.
  4. Bang on the budget: This involves researching and calculating the cost of setting up, renting and running a home, including prioritising within a budget. Money saving ideas are discussed, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

The Homes for Cathy group’s other work to raise awareness of housing need and homelessness is available on our website:

Please do circulate the Education Pack to anyone that you know who works with teenagers in any capacity. We do not want to be talking about homelessness on the increase in another 50 years’ time: this is one way that we can hope to influence the future a little. Thank you.