Queen for a Day: Claire Warren

Pickering and Ferens Homes’ CEO would ensure her kingdom comprises a tapestry of housing providers – all of which she would support to tackle the gamut of housing issues.

As a queen with a growing number of subjects of advancing years, I am ever mindful that our nation’s housing needs to be designed and equipped to respond to our changing needs as we ‘get on a bit’.

So, for my first official act as queen, I would mandate that every landlord in the land signs a royal decree – AKA The Accessible Housing Vision and Charter – developed by The HoMe Coalition, who wish to prevent a potential crisis in the provision of suitable housing for older people and those with disabilities.

As queen, I have been watching with interest at how housing providers have responded to the government’s call for support in increasing the number of homes in our great nation.

There has been a real call to arms and increasing support for strategic partnerships, drawing funding from Homes England to enable housebuilding on a large scale.

However, as Patron of The Almshouse Association, I can see how often it is hard for smaller, community-based housing organisations to get involved and make their contribution.

Their ability to compete for land or to build in volume is difficult, but I would meet with my housing minister to agree how they can play a role within these wider partnerships and that what smaller housing associations can offer does not go untapped.

Mental health awareness is increasing, and the stigma attached to mental illness is decreasing.

People now talk about their mental wellbeing more openly, and that can only be a good thing.

Before I became Queen, one of my first jobs was working in a centre that supported single people who were homeless.

During my rookie experience, I didn’t come across anyone who made deliberate choices to create a homeless life for themselves.

And even if you didn’t enter homelessness with mental health issues, the danger, the raw need to survive, and the hopelessness that can ensue soon created them.

But sometimes, it wasn’t the lack of housing options available to those individuals that left them stuck on the street, but their eroded mental health, which prevented them accessing and sustaining a place that could become a home.

My final decree would be to invest in NHS mental health services so that there were timely, quality interventions that really invested in people’s emotional and mental wellbeing and could enable them to create a pathway to a good quality of life and new opportunities.

Homelessness is a massive issue that creates some divisive political opinions, but every homeless person I have met had a difficult backstory with which to contend.

As a compassionate sovereign, I want to enable everyone to have a home to call their own.

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