Lizzi Hearn profile photoLizzi Hearn is Public Affairs Officer at the National Housing Federation

It’s that time of year again – Starts at Home Day is back on Friday 1 September 2023. And with a general election next year, there is no better time to invite your MP to visit to showcase the value of the care and support you provide, and the difference that having a safe and secure place to call home makes to people’s lives.

A recent poll commissioned by the National Housing Federation shows that more than three quarters of the public think living in a decent quality, affordable home should be a right for everyone in the UK, and that 70% of voters think the government should do more to house local people on very low incomes and people with disabilities.

Supported housing does just that. Research commissioned by the National Housing Federation found that were it not for supported housing, 41,000 more people would be homeless, with a further 30,000 people at risk of homelessness. And in 2021, the BRE Group calculated that inadequate housing costs the NHS at least £1.4bn per year.

Ahead of the general election we want to help local politicians and MPs understand what supported housing is and the vital role it plays in communities up and down the country. It’s crucial to ensure its importance is reflected in the general election manifestos of all political parties. There is no better way to achieve this than by helping politicians see for themselves the value that supported housing has in their own constituencies.

Like last year, we are including councillors in the campaign and encourage you to invite your local mayor or councillor to visit your services. Councils are key commissioners of supported housing and so local councillors have a direct role in decisions that impact supported housing in your area. Councils play a key role in assessing local need for supported housing and there is collaboration between local councils, providers and local delivery partners to assess, plan and deliver supported housing. You can find out who your local councillors are by using this tool.

How do I organise an MP visit?

First, you’ll need to invite your MP or Councillor to a visit. We’ve created a template invitation you can use, but feel free to edit it or draft your own. MPs’ email addresses can be found on their constituency website and those for Councillors are available on your local authority website.

Try to be as specific as possible in your invitation, thinking about location and timings for the event. Make it easy for your MP’s office to get in touch with you and don’t be afraid if necessary to telephone the constituency office to chase the invitation a couple of weeks after you’ve sent it.

Next, you’ll need to think about an agenda for the visit. It is good to provide the MP or Councillor with this information ahead of the visit so they know what to expect. They are likely to want to see inside a scheme, talk to staff and also to a resident. You will need to think in advance about who those people will be so you can prepare them for the day.

On the day, don’t forget to bring a camera to take of plenty of photos and come prepared with any key messages you would like to share with your MP or Councillor. You can also to talk to them about local and national policy changes that will make it easier for you to deliver supported housing for the community. You will know best what changes need to happen in your area.

Finally, don’t forget to post photos of the visit on social media on Starts at Home Day using the #StartsAtHome hashtag. You might also want to let the local newspaper know that the visit is happening to see if they would like to cover the story.

If you do secure a visit with your MP or Councillor, please let the NHF know. You can email me and we can provide you with background information on your MP or answer any other questions you may have about organising a visit.

You can also find further resources to help with your visit here.