My social home: how council and social housing has improved the lives of millions, and how it could again

My social home: how council and social housing has improved the lives of millions, and how it could again

1.2 million people are currently on waiting lists for council and social housing.

Housing costs account for the biggest chunk of your pay packet, and genuinely affordable housing can make a huge difference to people’s lives. That’s why we’re calling for a new generation of high-quality social housing, providing security, stability and affordability for those who need it most.

We asked our supporters for their experiences of what social housing has done for them. Here are some of the stories they told us:

Christine’s story

A dog on a motorbike with a girl standing alongside
Christine with dog Sooty on her uncle’s motorbike, in front of her council home in Berkshire

I was raised with many siblings in a council home in Berkshire. Four bedrooms: parents in one, brother in another, two eldest sisters in the third, and me and four younger sisters in the fourth.

We were all able to walk to school and play in the garden or on the street with neighbours’ children. The local parks were within walking distance. Happy days.

My parents were able to move to a three-bedroom council home when my brother and eldest sisters married and left home. And when we had all left home, my parents moved to a council flat.

Sadly, my mum had to move out of the flat when my dad died, but she was rehoused in sheltered housing in a block of flats run by the council. She loved her little flat and was able to feed the birds on her balcony and watch the warden gardening – planting seeds paid for by the residents in the community garden.

Mark’s story

My family lived with my grandmother until they were offered a council house on a council estate when I was a toddler. My parents eventually split up, but we grew up in our home and had stability in that house.

A smiling woman playing with a baby in the garden
Mark in his large garden in his council home with his mum

My mum brought three of us up, and at times things were difficult for her in the 1980s, but at least the rent was controlled by the government instead of a ruthless landlord. That house had a large garden and allowed us to play and make a nuisance of ourselves, albeit safely.

I eventually was lucky enough to be offered social housing as an adult, in my 40s. I decided on a career change and went to university; the fact I was in social housing really helped with that decision as it meant I had stability and could afford to pay the rent with the university loans.

We need more social housing to make it affordable for key workers to live in the areas they work in, to create stable communities and to support and sustain families in good quality homes. People need homes, not houses.

James’ story

Following two years living in my van, I was fortunate in June 2018 to be helped by the local authority, as well as the charity St Martins, into emergency accommodation.

I had help from a support worker, sorted out my benefits, registered for housing with the local authority and started the bidding process. I was lucky with my bid for a suitable flat and moved in, that was September 2018.

A modern living room with a sofa and TV
James’ living room in his social home which he says has changed his life

I’ve had help from a variety of people and non-governmental organisations with the basics: bed, chair etc. And St Martins provided me with a washing machine. It is now 2022, I’m an actively engaged resident with my landlord, Broadland Housing. The provision of social housing has changed my life.

Sara’s story

My daughter and I are lucky enough to live in specially adapted accommodation provided by West Lancashire borough council. It means my daughter, who is severely disabled after a brain injury four years ago, is able to access her downstairs bedroom and wet room, as well as the garden.

A girl in a wheelchair outside a house
Sara’s daughter Chloe outside their social home in West Lancashire

We want to thank everyone who submitted their stories to us. Please keep an eye out for more and if you have a story to share, consider submitting your own. Together, we can start to make the case for a new generation of decent, high quality, genuinely affordable social housing.

If you believe in the importance of social housing, sign our petition demanding more social housing be built across the country.