A week in housing

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Reasonably pleasant news from York this week: homeless people have been training to become tour guides in the city.

Run by charity Invisible York, the project has seen its participants learning the art of tour-guiding in cities like Edinburgh and Manchester where the scheme is already in operation.

The charity’s Kenny Lieske said: ‘At the moment, the participants are practicing with a script – however, when the training has been completed, those involved will be developing their own individual tour of the city based on subjects that interest them. So far, their ideas have included a tour of York’s snickelways, and an expedition through time to uncover the city’s rich railway heritage.’

The next part of the project will hopefully see mentors recruited to assist the tour guides with their research – and if that sounds like you, click this bit here to get involved.

Mr Lieske added: ‘Volunteer mentors will play a key role during the final stages of our training programme running between January – March, so we are keen to hear from anyone with an interest in local history, architecture, drama or even those who may have worked as a tour guide themselves.’

The guided tours are expected to begin in March, just in time for Brexit which should make for some interesting tours: ‘All this used to be a vibrant, thriving commercial area full of functioning infrastructure and people’.

***

Everybody’s favourite fishy-named former home secretary, Amber Rudd, has resigned from politics and joined a Spanish dance troupe. Only joking!

Actually, the now work and pensions secretary, fresh from her reign of partly inherited chaos at the Home Office, is slowly sifting her way through the mountain of chaos she has inherited at the DWP – and has decided that something needs to be done (though not right away, of course).

Back in 2015, chancellor and financial genius George Osborne introduced a benefits freeze, which MP Rudd thinks has served its time and has proposed doing away with when it comes up for renewal in 2020 (which, incidentally, is also when my passport comes up for renewal I noticed just yesterday, but I digress).

A. Rudd said: ‘The whole point about the three-year benefit freeze was making sure that people on low incomes had the same rises as people on benefits. This was a time when inflation was very low and it was the right thing to do at the time, given that we also had the massive debts that the country had inherited from Labour.’

Coupled with her announcement that the two-child limit on Universal Credit payments will be partially rolled-back, it almost seems as if the government is quietly but systematically dismantling many of its key policy decisions of the last few years – almost as if many of them were deeply flawed, stupid and poorly thought out.

George Osborne currently ‘edits’ the Evening Standard.

***

As we prepare to go our own way, here’s a story to make you proud to be British, or English, or whatever it is that makes you happy: some children in Lancashire are arriving at school so hungry that they are searching bins for food.

According to headmistress Siobhan Collingwood, one in 10 of the pupils at the school in Morecambe come from families reduced to using foodbanks. She said: ‘When children are food deprived it alters their behaviour and they do become quite food obsessed, so we have some children who will be stealing fruit cores from the bins.’

Comes to something, doesn’t it? Now a cross-party group of MPs is calling for the creation of a minister for hunger to deal with a problem that feels like it’s crawled out of the Middle Ages. (What next? An ombudsman for leprosy?)

Who in a cabinet bursting with talent could deliver in a such a role? What about one A. Rudd, the current work and pensions secretary (see above)? Well, HQN Residents’ Network lead associate Rob Gershon had this to tweet ‘This is literally @AmberRuddHR’s job,’ so it might be that someone should just mention something to her.

Then again, she already has a lot on her plate – unlike 19% of under 15-year-olds in the UK.

Anyway, headmistress Collingwood added that she had parents arriving at the school and ‘literally bursting into tears telling me they have no means of feeding their children,’ and that she’d noticed more issues since the inception of the government’s much-loved Universal Credit.

Responding to this…unfathomably appalling situation, someone from the DWP said that since 2010 a million people had been taken out of absolute poverty, including 300,000 children – which doesn’t seem to address the problem of children picking food out of rubbish bins, but what do I know?

***

It’s upcoming HQN event round-up time – which is the bit when I round-up some upcoming HQN events.

Practical Magic: nope, it’s not a day of tributes to the late Paul Daniels but an event that’ll brilliantly illuminate your mind caverns with a dazzling array of digital possibilities.

To name a few, we’ve got Amazon Web Services, Oracle, Out Systems, Active Housing, Gospel Technology and Yoti doing special presentations and demos – but it’s not about sales pitches! This will be a day of discussion, debate and interaction.

We want our members to come away with a real idea about the tech that exists out there in the real world that they can be putting to use TODAY to improve their services.

It’s on the 24th. Of this month. And the tickets are selling very quickly. So, you’d better click this bit of text to go and book yours. No pressure.

_ _

Isn’t Brexit exciting? What do you mean ‘no, I’m really bored of it’? You mean to say that you’ve actually become tired of hearing the word ‘Brexit’ at least 10 times a day for the last three years? Tsk.

No matter how bored you may be, we have to prepare for…whatever it is that’s actually going to happen, and as the people who are in charge don’t seem to have a Scooby Doo what’s going on, I’d say there are some interesting times ahead.

Thus, we have created this timely event: Preparing for Brexit.

We’ll be looking at: supply chain impact; business continuity preparations; action planning for your organisation; David Davis’ latest brain scans on the hunt for activity (I made the last one up – the latest scans failed to locate the requisite organ).

Here are some more details: 13 Feb, in London village, in a building with heating, chairs and coffee.

If you want lots more important details that aren’t obscured by my attempts to be funny, please click this bit.

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