In 2009, I was homeless. I sofa-surfed and slept rough one night – things not all 18-year-olds can imagine. In Labour’s Britain I became a youth homeless statistic, one of the thousands of young people who were homeless and not seen as a priority because they were a year too old. It may be surprising to learn that I am now a Conservative housing campaigner.
People frequently ask how I can be a Conservative and a housing campaigner, often pointing to the 169% increase in homelessness since austerity began. The answer? This wasn’t the fault of evil Tories: after every recession in the UK there has been a rise in homelessness.
cuts to local authorities’ budgets that have meant cuts to frontline homelessness services.
The Conservatives did not come to power intending to destroy people’s lives or make them homeless. They were elected to help fix things.
That’s why, six months after running as an independent candidate in Hackney, London, in 2017, wining 50 votes, I joined the Conservative party. As someone who wasn’t entitled to priority assistance for housing at the age of 18, I was proud to join the party that proposed the Homelessness Reduction Act. This new law raises the duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness for their residents from 28 days to 56 days and to provide advice and guidance on options for the individual or family at risk of becoming homeless.
renovate empty properties above shops in Hackney. I have successfully campaigned for a homelessness forum to be set up with agencies who work with homeless people in Worcester, and challenged Worcester City council on its homelessness policy.
I’m a housing campaigner and a Tory. For me, there is no contradiction. I will continue fighting with the knowledge of what it’s like to be a young homeless person. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, political friend or foe.