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IKEA and Shelter launches 'Real Life Roomsets', revealing the realities of the UK housing emergency

Together with our national charity partner, Shelter, we have today launched ‘Real Life Roomsets’ in four IKEA stores. Alongside new research that reveals public opinion around the housing emergency in the UK, our new campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue and highlight the real living conditions of those who are forced into temporary accommodation as a result.

According to research commissioned by IKEA, one in five (21%) people in the UK are worried about losing their home, with half (49%) saying if they lost their current home, they would struggle to find somewhere else to live. In the past year in order to keep up with their housing costs, 18% of people in the UK say they have taken on additional work, 17% have skipped meals and a further quarter (25%) would consider it. 

One in every 208 people in England is currently experiencing homelessness1, with thousands more likely to lose their homes by the end of the year as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Together with Shelter, we have created ‘Real Life Roomsets’ to raise awareness of this issue and highlight the real living conditions of those who are forced into temporary accommodation as a result.

The roomsets, which are a stark contrast to those found in our famously inspiring and well-designed showrooms, are based on real stories of people local to the stores involved. Each roomset highlights the cramped, dangerous, and unfit spaces that an increasing number of people who are homeless are forced to experience when living in temporary accommodation.   

Temporary accommodation, which can take the form of emergency hostels, B&Bs, one room bedsits and cramped flats, is provided by councils to qualifying families who are homeless and is designed to be just that: temporary. However, with a shortage in social housing, some families are finding themselves living in temporary accommodation for years and are very often asked to move several times with short notice2.

Real Life Roomsets

This campaign comes as part of our long-term partnership with Shelter, demanding for 90,000 social homes to be built a year by 2030 to help address the housing emergency. Additionally, we are also joining Shelter’s campaign to amend the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill with a new  Infrastructure Levy, to ensure all new truly affordable homes are social housing.​​​​​​​  The four roomsets are located in IKEA stores (IKEA Birmingham, IKEA Bristol, IKEA Hammersmith and IKEA Warrington) near cities experiencing some of the worst levels of homelessness in the country*:

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Mother and child hugging and smiling in front of a block of flats

Everyone deserves a place to call home

IKEA and housing and homelessness charity, Shelter, have announced a new, long-term partnership that will see our two organisations joining forces to defend the one thing we value most: home. Together, our aim is to ensure that by 2030, half a million people have access to a better life at home.

  • From early 2023, IKEA and Shelter will train co-workers to become ‘Life at Home Experts’ and help people in precarious housing situations to understand their rights and keep hold of their homes before they reach crisis point. This is the first time Shelter has trialled the ‘Life at Home Experts’ initiative with any partner, which will see staff trained by the charity to understand local and national housing issues and rights.  

    IKEA will also fund Housing Rights Workers, who will be based in Shelter advice hubs. The initiative aims to reach people who need housing help in their local communities. By working more closely in neighbourhoods and providing early intervention, IKEA and Shelter hope to stop more people from losing their homes.  

    The launch of the partnership will also see the beginning of a flagship three-year research project following the journeys of families living in social housing. The in-depth findings will be used to inform the most pressing focuses that are needed for the partnership, and to help call on the government to deliver systemic change by building 90,000 social homes a year by 2030. 

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**There are 112,663 homeless households living in temporary accommodation (TA) in the UK. This includes 95,060 households living in TA in England, 13,945 households living in TA in Scotland, 4,465 households living in TA in Wales and 3,658 households living in TA in Northern Ireland. The figures are correct as of March 2022, apart from the Northern Ireland figure which is correct as of June 2022.

Data is available at DLUHC, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Table TA1, Scottish Government, Homelessness in Scotland: 2021/22, Table 26, Welsh Government, Homelessness: April 2021 to March 2022 and Department for Communities, Northern Ireland Homelessness Bulletin January - June 2022.

There are 1.2 million households on social housing waiting lists in England. Data is available at DLUHC, Live tables on rents, lettings and tenancies, Table 600

1Of these, 2,400 people are sleeping rough on any given night, 15,000 people are in hostels or supported accommodation and nearly 250,000 are living in temporary accommodation – most of whom are families. Figures taken from here.

2In England, more than two-thirds of families (68%) living in temporary accommodation have been there for over a year.  Figures taken from here. There are 1.2 million households on the social housing waiting list. Only 7,500 new social homes were built last year, while more than 21,000 were lost through sales or demolition. Figures taken from here.