Connect is a member of the Homes for Cathy group, a national network of housing associations, which were all set up following the ‘Cathy Come Home’ BBC television drama in 1966. The group aims to highlight the continuing needs of homeless people in the run-up to its 50th anniversary in November this year.
‘Cathy Come Home’, directed by Ken Loach, led to a public outcry about the problem of homelessness. Up and down the country people came together – often in partnership with their local churches – to form housing associations in their communities to provide homes for homeless people.
Connect is the product of a merger between two associations who were created out of the ‘Cathy Come Home’ era to respond to the housing crisis. The Ridings Housing Association (Leeds based) and West Yorkshire Housing Association (Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield based) set out to identify social need in West Yorkshire and how they could meet those needs not only by building but also by providing support services and supporting community partners – it is in the DNA of both organisations.
“The Association’s primary aim is to increase the provision of good quality housing to rent for those in the greatest housing need and is concerned to help single people, the elderly and disabled people, as well as families. The Association aims to provide accommodation at rents that are affordable by those on low incomes."
The Rev. Bill Snelson, The Ridings founder
In 2006, both organisations came together to create Connect because they shared a common approach to providing homes, investing in communities and providing support services across West Yorkshire. That heritage has carried on in the work of Connect today and our passion is for a fairer society, where people’s homes, health and happiness matter.
Despite housing associations and others building hundreds of thousands of homes over the last 50 years, the problem of homelessness has not gone away. More and more families are being accepted as homeless by local authorities up and down the country, and last Christmas over 100,000 children were in temporary accommodation. There is simply not enough affordable accommodation to meet the housing need and this has to change.
“Connect is one of the housing associations whose roots can be traced to the time of the BBC drama ‘Cathy Come Home’ and its founding organisations were created in response to the housing crisis then. Fifty years later and we still have a housing crisis – I want Connect to continue to be part of the solution.” Helen Lennon, Chief Executive, Connect
The Homes for Cathy group is working with the National Housing Federation, Shelter and Crisis, as well as with the Cardboard Citizens Theatre Workshop. Find out more about Homes for Cathy at www.homesforcathy.org.uk