IKEA UK highlight temporary accommodation reality at four stores

Reflecting the problem faced in many countries globally, IKEA UK and its national charity partner, Shelter, are displaying the reality people experiencing homelessness face through ‘Real Life Roomsets’.

Research reveals one in every 208 people in England is currently experiencing homelessness1, while 11 million adults in the UK are worried about losing their current home2. Half (49%) say if they lost their current home, they would struggle to find an alternative place to live.

‘Real Life Roomsets’ are in place at four stores – IKEA Hammersmith, IKEA Birmingham, IKEA Warrington and IKEA Bristol – near cities experiencing some of the highest homelessness levels3.

Both IKEA UK and Shelter, a charity which exists to defend the right to a safe home, are demanding for 90,000 social homes to be built by 2030 in the UK to help address the housing emergency. By 2025, 1.6 billion people are expected to be affected by the global housing shortage, according to the World Bank4.

Typical roomsets at IKEA offer well-designed, stylish and practical solutions for the many people. In contrast, ’Real Life Roomsets’ are based on the reality many people local to the store are facing. They show cramped, grotty spaces that an increasing number of people who are experiencing homelessness are forced to experience when living in temporary accommodation.

In the UK, when qualifying families have no permanent home, local councils provide temporary accommodation. It could be emergency hostels, B&B, one-room bedsits or cramped apartments. It should be just that: temporary. With a shortage in social housing in the UK, families can find themselves living in a temporary accommodation for years. In England, more than two-thirds of families (68%) living in temporary accommodation have been there for over a year5.

IKEA UK’s partnership with Shelter is part of Ingka Group’s x Neighbourhoods social impact framework. Ingka Group, the largest IKEA franchisee, responsible for IKEA Retail across 31 markets, has been working to create positive change in communities for a long time but these efforts have been scattered and based on charity donations.

Through Ingka x Neighbourhoods social impact framework, Ingka is moving away from charity and donations to developing long-term partnerships and initiatives that focus on creating lasting impact for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing poverty and or social exclusion.

The IKEA UK partnership with Shelter is an example of how IKEA is exploring ways to co-create solutions that bring about lasting positive impact at a local level.

One example from the ’Real Life Roomsets’ campaign features Sam, whose story is told at the IKEA store in Hammersmith, London.

After a relationship breakdown, Sam and her three children found themselves homeless and placed in a hostel that wasn’t appropriate. After seven weeks of living alone in her car while her children stayed with a friend, Sam was eventually placed in temporary accommodation, but it was out of her area and too far away from her children’s schools so they had to move to live with their dad. Sam was assaulted on two occasions while living in her temporary accommodation. Her temporary accommodation had black mould, and due to a hole in her front door where the letter box should have been, there was an overriding smell of cannabis constantly throughout the flat. The stress of the situation meant that Sam had to take leave from work, and she worries what the long-term impact will be of her not being able to care for her children during this time.

Housing is a basic human need and IKEA believes home is the most important place in the world. The IKEA Life at Home Report for 2022, surveyed over 37,000 people in 37 countries, it showed that the state of the economy (66%) and household finances (61%) are a big concern globally. The same report explains that home is a place to feel like ourselves and during times of deep uncertainty, people continue to turn to home as a place for comfort and security.

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK & Ireland, says: “The focus on building ‘affordable’ homes rather than social housing is a distraction from finding a real solution to the housing emergency, which currently relies on the unsuitable provision of temporary accommodation where families are being forced to live in uninhabitable and unacceptable conditions.”

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