The homeless sector pays tribute to Jack Dromey MP

Jack laid the foundations for national Youth Homeless Parliament. He was a passionate advocate for a participative democracy and following his election as MP for Erdington, he was keen to ensure that children and young people could experience the democratic process first hand in the heart of Parliament. Following his election, he took a party of young people from Erdington to Westminster and was keen to ensure that young people with homelessness experience were involved. He invited young people from St Basils to be part of that visit.

A flame was ignited and on 13th December 2012, he invited 100 young people from a number of homelessness charities including St Basils, Centrepoint, Crisis, DePaul UK, Foyer Federation, Forum Housing, Homeless Link, St Mungo’s, and YMCA to come together to draw up a ‘Homeless Youth Manifesto’ to present for discussion to a cross-party panel. This event made history; it was the first time homeless young people had ever been invited to Parliament to debate directly with ministers. Jack was also keen that the event would help young people dispel some of the stereotypes and myths around ‘homeless people’. The young people were invited to vote on their 3 key priorities and collectively they identified these as: ‘A Consistent Voice for Young People’, ‘Tackle The lack of Affordable Quality Housing’ and ‘Abandon Proposals to Cut Housing Benefit to under 25s’.

This successful event led to the announcement in May 2013 by then Housing Minister, Mark Prisk MP, that St Basils should work with National Youth Reference Group and sector partners to develop an annual Youth Homeless Parliament event. The first official Youth Homeless Parliament took place in Westminster on 13th December 2013. Young people achieved their first priority and indeed government subsequently took the decision not to remove housing benefit from the under 25s. As we know, the supply of affordable housing remains a significant gap.

Many of the tributes to Jack speak of the tremendous respect for him across politics. The inception of Youth Homeless Parliament and the legacy this has built, are testament to his inclusive approach to working across politics for the greater good.

Since the establishment of Youth Homeless Parliament (YHP) and development of national Youth Voice, over 1000 young people with lived experience of homelessness, have been able to present to Ministers in Parliament, the drivers and impacts of homelessness, their lived experience of them, and their recommendations for change.

As we prepare for national YHP 2022, some 10 years since Jack first hosted young people in Westminster, we will honour and pay tribute to the important precedent he set and the principle that you may not always get what you ask for, but you need the opportunity to have your voice heard if you are to influence those with the power to prioritise. Partnership, participation, and diverse perspectives benefit all.

Young people have worked tirelessly at a national level to consult their peers, to articulate the problems and define solutions, illustrated by their own experiences. They have developed a national peer support network and learned about the democratic and parliamentary processes. Most importantly they have informed and influenced government policy and decisions.

As part of Jack’s legacy, we will review those recommendations, progress made, their continuing relevance and ensure those voices continue to be heard in the Houses of Parliament by those with power.

Members of national Youth Homeless Parliament and the many organisations who support them will be forever grateful to Jack Dromey MP for this legacy.

“Jack Dromey had such a big lead with the founding of Youth Homeless Parliament. He had a passion to help young people from all walks of life and gave the Youth Voice that platform to push and make change within Parliament. If it was not for Jack Dromey, the Youth Homeless Parliament would not be the staple it is that gives young people the voice they deserve.”
Sean Marsey – Youth Homeless Parliament Member 2013.

Jean Templeton
Chief Executive
St Basils
Denise Hatton
Chief Executive
YMCA England and Wales
Rick Henderson
Chief Executive
Homeless Link
Seyi Obakin
Chief Executive
Centrepoint
Pauline Williamson
Group Chief Executive
YMCA Heart of England
Joel Lewis
Chief Executive
The Foyer Federation
Mike Thiedke
CEO
Depaul UK
Steve Douglas CBE
Chief Executive
St Mungo’s
Tim Sigsworth, FRSA, MBE
Chief Executive
Albert Kennedy Trust
Matthew Downie
Chief Executive
Crisis
Debbie Thompson
Chief Executive
Forum Housing

 

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