Bishop David Walker speaks of belonging. Photo: Adam May
Yesterday evening (14April 2016), Ekklesia was proud to launch our second book Foxes Have Holes: Christian reflections on Britain’s housing need at Manchester Cathedral in partnership with Housing Justice.
The event provided an important opportunity to discuss the UK housing crisis in a city that will struggle to meet the housing needs of families in the next decade; currently has 20,000 on the waiting list for social housing and is already experiencing a tent city of homeless people.
We began with a warm welcome from Dr David Holgate, Canon for Theology and Mission, and a brief introduction to Ekklesia from our Co-Director, Simon Barrow.
Virginia Moffatt, Ekklesia Chief Operating Officer, then set the context for the book’s publication, citing factors such as an overinflated housing market, rising rents, and the sell-off of council estates in reducing the availability of affordable, accessible housing for all.
The Rt Rev Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, provided some helpful reflections on our need for home and a place to belong. He pointed out the iniquities of the benefit cap and bedroom tax that was forcing people out of their homes, and the importance of all of us being able to live in a safe place.
Helen Woolley discusses the importance of open space. Photo by Adam May
Helen Woolley, architect and Reader in Landscape Architecture and Society at the University of Sheffield, discussed the importance of open space in cities. Describing how Bourneville, her home town, was deliberately designed to provide gardens and green spaces for tenants, she pointed out the importance of bringing such thinking to modern urban planning.
Andrew Francis, theologian, contributor and editor of the book, concluded by arguing for the importance of housing that was truly affordable, accessible to everybody who needed it and which enabled people to live in and contribute to their local communities. He finished by urging everyone to take copies of the book to their local churches and politicians, and to back the book’s call for a nationwide programme to develop the housing we need for the future.
Ekklesia is grateful to all who made the event so special, including those offering thoughtful comments from the floor and the two donors who helped to crowdfund the book. We would particularly like to thank our three speakers, Bishop David, Helen Woolley and Andrew Francis and a fourth contributor, Helen Roe who was also in attendance. We are also immensely grateful to Canon David Holgate, Derek and Penny from Manchester Cathedral who worked so hard to make the evening a success. Finally, thanks are also due to Adam May from Housing Justice who has done sterling press and publicity work for this event.
Andrew Francis calls for political consensus on housing. Photo by Adam May
We will be holding follow up events in London, Oxford and Glasgow, so please do keep an eye out for those. We would love to see you there.
A podcast of the event will be available shortly.
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Virginia Moffatt sums up. Photo by Adam May