Guernsey Press

New charity aims to help growing number of ‘insecurely housed’ islanders

Someone else’s sofa is said to represent home for hundreds of people in Guernsey.

Last updated

More than 1,000 islanders are believed to be ‘insecurely housed’ and numbers are growing. It is hoped that they could benefit from a new charity dedicated to ending homelessness.

At Home In Guernsey, which is being launched by the Guernsey Community Foundation with financial backing from Specsavers, will support people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, including ‘sofa-surfers’ living temporarily with other households, and adults trying to leave inadequate accommodation.

‘The word homelessness suggests a fixed and precise condition but it’s useful to think of a spectrum of homelessness,’ said Jim Roberts, Community Foundation CEO.

‘At one end you have people sleeping rough, and at the other end is someone who may have a roof over their head, but they’re at risk of harm if they stay where they are, or they’re at risk of eviction, or their accommodation is severely ill-suited to their needs.’

He said that a recent States report had estimated more than 1,000 men, women and children were ‘insecurely housed’, which was an increase of nearly 50% since 2016.

This can include people living in temporary accommodation, or those who had lived at more than two addresses in the space of a year.

The foundation published a homeless report in 2022 which suggested a ‘significant’ number of people struggling to secure housing.

The launch of the charity has followed on from this.

The charity will be independent from the foundation and Specsavers will provide funding for its first three years. It intends to focus on short-term harm reduction and longer-term policy change.

‘We obviously need to work with the States, and we also need to raise public awareness of the scale and the nature of the problem, and at the same time reduce the stigma of being insecurely housed,’ said Mr Roberts.

‘Harm reduction is about offering direct support to people experiencing and at risk of homelessness, and At Home In Guernsey will promote a multi agency approach to tackling homelessness, including employing support workers to help people.’

Specsavers CEO John Perkins said that, while it was sad that such a charity was needed locally, Specsavers was pleased to be able to help make At Home In Guernsey a reality.

‘Everyone’s circumstances are different, and sometimes are influenced by luck or happenstance and one minor decision which has gone a different way. I think we’re pretty humble in terms of what we can bring to the table. other than an understanding of the complexity of this issue.’