Aspire and Succeed: Local Conversation in Lozells

04 November 2021

Over the last seven years, residents in Lozells, Birmingham, have been working together to address local issues through their Local Conversation funded by the Trust.

Unaffordable and poor quality housing drives inequalities and impacts some groups who are already facing disproportionate disadvantages. Problems with housing such as overcrowding, damp and cold can lead to physical health conditions as well as poor mental health.

It is estimated that 8.5 million renters are experiencing stress or anxiety and a quarter have reported feeling physically ill or sick as a result of their housing.

“It takes up to nine months for housing applications to get assessed and if you make a mistake you have to resubmit which is one of the most unfair processes we have come across.” Shale Ahmed, Project Director

That is why at Lozells, housing is one of their key priorities. They have specific goals to alleviate the hardships faced by local families affected by tough welfare changes and empower residents to become peer leaders in their community.

During the pandemic, they supported over 100 new families with welfare advice and housing advocacy services. They also provide weekly advice surgeries, job and CV workshops, accredited courses, budgeting advice and housing workshops. The housing workshops have been particularly vital for residents.

In June 2020, 3,064 families in Birmingham were in temporary accommodation, 428 of them were in emergency Bed and Breakfast accommodation, and over 13,000 families were on the Council’s Housing Register. The extent of the issue is evident in Lozells where many families are struggling to meet market rent.

Over the past year, project members have been campaigning for some of the 5,000 new homes in the Commonwealth Village nearby to become social rent homes and for the Council to urgently build more social rent family homes in the area. Families in Lozells are now feeling more empowered and confident to secure good housing following training on how to fill out online housing applications alongside English as a second language classes.

They have been meeting with housing officers to gain insight into the housing application process and feed back on barriers that need to be removed. They have also delivered training sessions on online housing applications alongside English as a Second Language classes so families are more able to submit their own applications and in turn support others.

The Local Conversation is taking a whole-systems approach, working with partners and the local authority to address the wide-ranging housing issues affecting residents, alongside their other work prioritising employment, children and young people and the local environment.

This project supports people living in Lozells, Birmingham. It is funded by People's Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery West Midlands.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2021 Annual Review and demonstrates how housing is an important social determinant of health. To read it in full, click here.

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