Louisa Sedgwick is managing director of mortgages at Vida

The specialist lending sector has been there to support Britain’s underserved borrowers for many years, including the self-employed, freelancers, professional landlords and the credit impaired.

That role is set to grow in importance as the country feels the economic implications of the COVID-19 crisis. For furloughed borrowers or business owners that have suffered financially because of the pandemic, specialist lending will become the norm as consumers seek out mortgage providers who look beyond their credit score.

Centrepoint charity youth homelessness

Vida partners with Crisis to fight homelessness

Yet while lenders like Vida can and will continue to support these borrowers, there are others whom the mortgage industry has a responsibility to help, now more than ever, during these challenging and uncertain times; people experiencing homelessness. Isn’t it time we helped everyone find a safe place to call home?

This year in particular, we’ve been reminded how essential a safe and secure home is. Yet the latest figures show that this basic comfort isn’t a reality for many. In 2019, it was estimated that around 4,266 people¹ were sleeping rough across England on any given night, more than double the amount in 2010.

Last year, nearly 290,000 households in England alone went to their local council because they were at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Those figures are likely to grow as the economic impact of Coronavirus takes hold.

At Vida, we know that the mortgage industry has a responsibility to make a tangible difference, not just to our customers, but for people forced into rough sleeping, sofa-surfing, living in B&Bs and other forms of temporary accommodation. That’s why we recently announced a three-year partnership with Crisis, the national homelessness charity.

How Crisis is working to end homelessness

Carol became homeless in 2018 when her landlord sold the flat she was renting. Because of her health, Carol was unable to work and struggled to find somewhere to move to. She was forced to sofa-surf with a friend for eight months.

While staying there, Carol contacted her local council in Edinburgh for support, and was put in touch with Crisis. When the country went into lockdown in March, Carol was still living with her friend and finding it very difficult.

Carol worked with Crisis to find a flat and view it online. Crisis negotiated the rent on Carol’s behalf and helped her to move in. Carol has been living in her new home for months now and is really happy – she says that having Crisis’ support made a huge difference to her and helped her end her homelessness.

Vida’s commitment to Crisis will see staff members giving their time, energies and donations to help end homelessness for good. From the Edinburgh Marathon to Crisis at Christmas, Vida’s employees will get stuck in and raise as much as we can. As we grow as a business, so will our contribution. We have committed at least £150,000 to Crisis over the next three years.

What can you do?

This isn’t just about Vida. We will be working hard to inspire our people, intermediary partners and customers to take action. We want to encourage the industry to get involved and work with Crisis to help people like Carol.

Everyone can play a part in helping to end homelessness and we’re confident that this is an initiative many of us in the mortgage industry can get behind.

Let’s start by supporting Crisis at Christmas. A donation of just £28.22 can provide someone who is homeless with access to friendship and support, essential food, a place to stay over Christmas and year-round support including training and education. It’s time to help everyone find a safe place to call home.