The Homes for Britain Rally was more than an event
I remember walking into an empty Methodist Central Hall a year a half ago having just booked it for the Homes for Britain Rally. I looked at the huge space and thousands of empty seats with a feeling of both excitement and apprehension. Could the whole housing sector come together on a scale never seen before to loudly make the case for housing? That question was answered resoundingly on Tuesday when more than 2,300 people from nearly 300 organisations joined forces in a truly unprecedented day for the housing sector. The energy, enthusiasm and passion was inspiring. Thank you to everyone who made the rally such a success.
The Homes for Britain Rally was more than an event. It represented a desire from organisations from every corner of the sector to transform the debate on housing. We all felt that we had been too timid at the last election. That this time we wouldn’t wait for politicians or the media to offer us a platform, we would create one ourselves. On Tuesday we did just that. We didn’t just find our collective voice. By coming together on that scale, we ensured that politicians and the country were forced to listen.
And listen they did. All five main parties in the UK not only spoke at the rally, fielding speakers at cabinet level or above. They also, crucially, committed to end the housing crisis within a generation. That’s an unprecedented political consensus on housing which means that every national party that could lead or form part of the next government has backed our call. That could make all the difference in our effort to shift housing to the political mainstream and secure the transformational change we need to end the crisis once and for all.
Yet, while political commitment is important, we need the public to back our cause too. We need all the parties to understand that the electorate expect them to stay true to their word. Wall-to-wall media coverage on the day of the rally took our message to the country. We featured on everything from the Today Programme to the 6 O’clock News, from the sofa of BBC Breakfast to the columns of the Times and Guardian. More than 200 pieces of media coverage on the day have been logged so far. And on social media, more than 5,000 people sent nearly 26,000 #homesforbritain tweets on the day, reaching over 5.3 million people. That built on the fantastic effort housing organisations put into getting our message out in the run-up to the rally, running, cycling and busing to London in style.
Today, the seats in Methodist Central Hall sit empty again. Our Rally is over. But it feels like Tuesday marked an important moment in housing’s history. We created our platform. Now we need to build on it to turn our moment into a movement for real and lasting change.