Down but not out – it’s time for our borough to take a lead on homelessness

By - Monday 19th September, 2016

Pancho Lewis is looking for Croydonian households which could take in a family that’s hit hard times

Image author’s own.

This month we’re calling on residents in Croydon borough to be part of something genuinely new and innovative. We’re on the hunt for homeowners who can act as host families for FairBnB – a scheme to tackle homelessness before it happens by harnessing goodwill.

The FairBnB concept was one of several flagship policies proposed by Croydon’s Opportunity & Fairness Commission report earlier this year. Over the past few months, we’ve been working on it with Croydon council to make it a reality.

The central idea behind FairBnB is simple: people who have spare rooms take in a person or family who are on the verge of losing their home. They put them up while they get back on their feet –for a maximum of eight week, but typically it’ll be about six weeks.

Families who lose their home are often placed in a bed-and-breakfast miles away from their jobs and schools

By stepping in to provide a helping hand, hosts can make a massive different to people’s lives. The alternative for most families is being placed in a bed-and-breakfast, often miles away from their homes. We know of at least one family that was placed in Chatham, Kent. Can you imagine the kind of disruption that has on their children’s lives, who have to travel to Croydon and back every day to go to school?

Hosts will come away feeling that they’ve made a critical difference to someone who’s down on their luck. And they’ll know that they’ve been part of a seminal project which aims to change the way we think about homelessness. We hope to roll FairBnB out to the rest of London and even the country as a whole.

On top of this hosts get paid – £15 a night for putting up a single bedroom, £20 for a double bedroom, and £25 for a triple. For a double room for eight weeks that adds up to more than £1,100.

The people you’re hosting would mostly be pregnant mothers or families

If this is something you feel you can contribute to then please get in touch. The process is safe – we’ll work with Croydon Council to screen guest families and we don’t accept anyone who has a known addiction, a criminal record or a mental health challenge that might pose a risk.

The people you’d be hosting would mostly be pregnant mothers or families. These are very much people like you or me, only that they’ve fallen on hard times.

This is an exciting time to live in Croydon. We’re doing things differently in a whole range ofways. FairBnB is a great example of this new ethos.

If you feel that you can step up, please do!

FairBnB can be contacted on 0800 612 2182 or 07982 405 332, or by e-mailing . For more information, check out the FairBnB FAQs page, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. If you live in Croydon and want to get involved in hosting, download a questionnaire.

Pancho Lewis

Pancho Lewis

Pancho Lewis is a social researcher at The Campaign Company. He worked as the engagement lead on the Croydon Opportunity & Fairness Commission, which reached out to more than 3,000 residents and workers to hear their views about how to make Croydon better. He is also active in his local community in the West End and Paddington.

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