Here is an article written by the children
UCL Housing Project Report.
In October 2017 we started a research project with university students from the University College of London, or UCL. We worked with the students every Wednesday for six weeks, so we could share our ideas about how we could work together to change the problems with our homes.
At first we all introduced ourselves and got to know each other through games like bingo. It was great learning about each other for both us children and the students. The students come from all over the world. We drew pictures with speech bubbles showing where we would like to be in 25 years and explained how would acheive our goals and targets. Stella wants to be a judge. We were no longer children, we were pupil researchers.
During the second week we wrote on Post-it notes what we didn‘t like about our homes and our school. We had to think carefully about why we liked and didn’t like things. Lots of us said that at school we don’t like the toilets. At home we were worried about not having enough space to play, how we sometimes felt unsafe in our area, how we couldn’t do our homework because of noise from neighbours or our own families and how when things broke they didn’t always get fixed. It was interesting that we often had the same things as our friends that we didn’t like in our homes.
The next part was really fun. We were given digital cameras and went around the school learing how to take pictures. We then took these cameras home and could take pictures of our own houses. This way we could show what we liked and disliked using pictures.
We all shared the pictures and had to guess what issues the picture was meant to show. We had pictures showing rubbish and leaks but also some nice things like pet rabbits and bedrooms that we liked. We then had a long conversation in groups talking about where we lived and our areas. It was unusual to be listened to by adults for such a long time. It felt good.
In January, we were invited to a presentation of this project at UCL. It was called Our Homes, Our Schools. How housing affects young people’s learning. It was amazing to see our own photos and what we had said being shown to other schools and other university students.It was inspiring to be at such a good university. We were really proud of ourselves who made speeches in front of such an important audience.It was a once in a life-time experience.
We had to design our own action as part of the project. We thought that many other children were facing the same issues as us and we wanted to see how we could come together and help change this. We didn’t think it was fair that we were the only children in this school giving our opinions as many of our friends were facing the same issues. So we designed questionnaires to interview other children in Year 5 and 6 and wanted to present them to Haringey Council with a doll’s house that was transformed by Miss into a HOUSE OF HORRORS, where inside are the issues we St Ignatius children think need to change, the voices of our school, the issues that affect our learning.
It is not fair that so many of us don’t have homes that help us to learn well. We may just be children but if we can be pupil researchers we wanted Haringey Council to listen to us. So we went to Hairngey council to ask them if they would come to our school.
Dervin, a student from UCL and we wanted to ask Haringey Council these questions;
- Will you commit to introducing a Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme in Haringey? Some children in this school live in houses where there are damp walls and things are broken but the landlord doesn’t fix them. Will you use this system to keep an eye on badly-behaved landlords?
- Will you commit to re-examining the policy in order to include more of Seven Sisters in the scheme? We want this area where our school is to be part of your checks on landlords so we are looked after in our houses.
- Will you pass a motion at Full Council that gives Haringey Council the powers to use Civil Penalties – which gives you the power to fine Landlords up to £30,000? If we don’t do our work at school we get into trouble. If Landlords don’t do their jobs as they should can you bring in a system where they have to pay money if they don’t do what this? If we get into trouble when we don’t do what we should, why can’t they?
- Will you be able to give us a date on when Haringey Council will be joining the Mayor’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker online database? This is what James Murray, the deputy major of London told Ms Hammond about. He is doing this is other parts of London. Can Haringey be a really good place for a child to live by being on this list as well?
- Will you meet with Haringey Citizens within 100 days of the Local Election to work together to ensure residents are able to easily report rogue landlords?
We had experts in housing come to the action to support our cause and asked parents to fill in a form for the council. Miss supported us too, by sharing her experiences. It was a lot of work and the information was handed to the council.
You can also see our story on Newsround as they thought our action was a brilliant idea.
We were all interviewed and it was a great end to an exciting day.
All the information was hand-delivered to Haringey Council.