CAMPAIGNS: Shelter links child poverty with housing - Research

Client: Shelter
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Where's Home?
Timescale: August - October 2002
Budget: Undisclosed

According to government figures, 81,000 households (which range from single people to families of six) are currently housed in temporary accommodation such as hostels or bed and breakfasts - a ten per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

This means 100,000 children experienced homelessness in the last year.

Where's Home?, a hard-hitting survey by the homeless charity Shelter, last month showed the crippling effects of this situation.

For example, children in 43 per cent of families had to change schools when they lost their homes, with bullying, shame, illness and insecurity also contributing to the detriment of their wellbeing. The latest campaign is part of wider media activity by Shelter on the subject of children and homelessness, which has been partly responsible for the government setting up a Bed and Breakfast Unit and committing to ensure that no family with children is in B&B by March 2004.

Objectives

To establish housing as a key indicator of child poverty. To highlight the number of households who are stuck in temporary accommodation. To use this information to put pressure on government to make them a priority for housing. To underline that homelessness isn't just about people sleeping on the streets,

and illustrate the damage done to children who experience homelessness and life in temporary accommodation. To publicise Shelter's Homeless to Home (H2H) project, which runs in Bristol, Birmingham and Sheffield and seeks to help families move into permanent homes.

Strategy and Plan

The Where's Home? report examined the experience of 21 families (50 children) in the Bristol H2H. To minimise costs, no hard copies were sent to journalists.

Instead, a press release alerted them to its launch, with the report available by e-mail or on the Shelter website. The press team linked the Bristol-based report to the quarterly national homelessness figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, to provide a regional angle on the subject for media across the country.

Shelter's public affairs arm organised fringe meetings on the subject of child poverty and homelessness at the Labour and Liberal Democrat Party Conferences.

Measurement and Evaluation

TV pieces were aired on BBC Newsround and South-East Today. The Guardian, The Daily Express and Evening Standard all ran articles, along with 30 local and regional papers and 30 local radio stations.

Results

Shelter reports that delegates and MPs at the Lib Dem and Labour party conferences were aware of, or asked for, copies of Where's Home?, while media and delegate attendance at the Shelter fringe meetings has been higher than in previous years. All media coverage carried the key messages of the campaign.

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