A recent report by Shelter has revealed Birmingham’s high rate of homelessness, with 1 in 73 people in the city homeless

Written by Rebecca Hall
Images by Garry Knight

In total, the number of homeless people living in the West Midlands is 23,800. Within this, Birmingham is ranked as the ‘worst area’ for the issue in the region, and 22nd nationally.

The numbers relate to official figures, but it is expected that many more are homeless. This means Birmingham’s problems are likely to be bigger than the figure reported.

As a way to combat the problem, the city council paid £3.3 million to local B&B’s who provided rooms for the homeless. A recent Birmingham Live investigation revealed at least 160 desperate families were living in B&B rooms across Birmingham for multiple weeks at a time.

We need to think and do more for those that are constantly vulnerable

Redbrick spoke to Caitlin, a first year student, who said, ‘Everyone sits in the relative safety of their Selly Oak houses with heating and water. And we complain about so many issues, obviously we face issues but these recent statistics make me realise we need to think and do more for those that are constantly vulnerable.’

Shelter attributes the growing problem to a combination of unaffordable rents, frozen housing benefits and severe shortage of social housing. Vicky Hines, Manager of the Shelter Birmingham hub, said that ‘it is unforgivable that thousands of people in the West Midlands have been swept up by the housing crisis and now have no place to call home.’

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: ‘As this crisis continues to unfold, the work of our frontline services remains absolutely critical.’

As Christmas approaches, many people take time to reflect and give back to the community. As a result of these new statistics and cold winter weather worsening the situation, homelessness has taken centre stage in efforts to give back over this festive period.

The work of our frontline services remains absolutely critical

On the night of November 30th a charity event was held in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral to raise awareness for homelessness. St Basil’s, an organisation which combats homelessness for people aged 16-25 in the West Midlands, organised the event.

St Basil’s stated, ‘It is a challenge but it’s great fun too and you’ll be joining together with lots and lots of other like-minded locals all trying to help this great cause.’

In 2015, 400 people took part, followed by 600 in 2016. This year, the number of volunteers and the amount raised is expected to have risen, as 860 people registered for the event.