A new pair of glasses and an Oyster card

Imagine you’d been sleeping on the streets for more than 40 years, and someone gave you £3000 to spend on anything you liked – what would you buy? That’s exactly what happened in a groundbreaking pilot project in London, when homeless charity Broadway gave 15 long-term rough sleepers personalised budgets and support to spend them however they chose. The results have far surpassed their cautious expectations. Eighteen months on, nine of the men are now in accommodation, some after decades on the streets, and both they and the professionals involved in the project believe the same approach could work to tackle homelessness elsewhere, as I found out in this piece for Inside Housing. The men’s requests were humbling – a new pair of glasses, a hearing aid, an Oyster card – and the average spend was just £794 over the first year. Broadway’s project will continue, but the Department for Communities and Local Government was reticent as to whether it would become official government policy – even though it not only appears to work, doesn’t cost very much and aligns perfectly with the ideals of choice and personalisation in public services.

Author: Katie Puckett

I am an experienced journalist, copywriter and editor who has covered the built environment for nearly 20 years. I’ve interviewed thousands of senior executives, politicians and experts in many fields and travelled to report on stories throughout Europe, the US, the Gulf states and India. My articles have appeared in many business and professional titles including Building, Estates Gazette, Inside Housing, the Bartlett Review, Insurance Times and Lloyd’s Market. I am co-author, with architect Bill Gething, of Design for Climate Change, published by RIBA, and I launched and edit The Possible, a thought leadership magazine for global engineering firm WSP. I'm also co-founder of Wordmule, an editorial studio that specialises in buildings and cities.

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