Homes For Families logoOn World Homeless Day 2020 (October 10), HOMELINK launched #homes4families – a fundraising and awareness campaign to future-proof the support we provide to local parents and children affected by homelessness.

There has been an alarming rise in the number of people recorded as homeless and in ‘priority need’ in recent years by councils across Sussex and we are now preparing for even tougher times ahead.

Since the Coronavirus pandemic started, we have seen a concerning increase in applications for loans to help local families into housing, with relationship breakdown, mental health issues, domestic violence and the loss of employment all factors that have led people to needing our support.

Our interest-free loan scheme has been helping to prevent local homelessness for over 15 years. Loans are repaid at a rate agreed with clients that they can afford and repayments are ‘recycled’ as soon as they are made to help the next person in need.

This cycle of giving is what makes HOMELINK so special but it is becoming increasingly hard for us to meet the growing demand for our support through existing funds. That’s why we’ve launched #homes4families, with a target of raising £10k a year to help parents and children affected by homelessness into housing.

There are many ways that local businesses, schools and colleges and individuals can support #homes4families. Visit Our Campaigns for more information and fundraising ideas and subscribe to our newsletter for news of events being planned for 2021 and beyond. Whatever the fundraising activity, big or small, we hope our #homes4families campaign will encourage a sense of community, an appreciation of all things home and masses of fundraising fun!

And the great thing about fundraising for #homes4families is that not only does every penny raised go a very long way, it’s also an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable families in our local area as one inspirational 11-year-old found out.

Willow’s fundraising story

Willow with her chickens

Willow with her chickens

11-year-old Willow Leeming has recently raised £1,820 for HOMELINK – an amount that has helped to re-house and reunite a local family separated under difficult circumstances.

As a result of completing this one run, Willow raised enough money to help Mum, Emilie, secure a home for her son and daughter so they could live together as a family again. Thanks to Willow, HOMELINK was able to provide Emilie with an interest-free loan to cover the cost of a landlord’s deposit and advance rent.

Willow’s efforts began last year with the set-up of a road-side stall selling eggs from her chickens. Motivated by the generosity of passers-by, Willow decided to step things up and train for a 10km solo run. Not having run 10k before, Willow began fitness training during the Covid-19 lockdown and then with the help of her family, mapped out a challenging circular route which took in Staplefield, Balcombe, Cuckfield – and lots of hills!

Willow at the end of her run

At the end of her run

Willow said: “Homelessness has always upset me so I feel really positive that I’ve done something to help. I didn’t just sit there – that makes me feel really happy inside.

“The hardest bit of the run was the last bit which was down a really steep hill then back up a hill at the end. I was really tired. I kept myself going by knowing that every step I took was going towards getting someone’s life back on track.”

After receiving a life-changing loan from HOMELINK, Emilie wrote to Willow to thank her for the difference she was making to her family, ahead of her daughter moving in to live with her after a 14-month separation.

Emilie said: “Over the weekend when my daughter joins myself and my son at home permanently, and we will once again be a unit all together, I want you to be very aware of the fact that all your brilliant hard work made it possible for HOMELINK to help me to secure a home. You should be very proud of yourself. I am extremely proud of you… You are a beautiful soul, an incredible role model to both children and adults, you deserve all the credit in the world.”

To read more about Willow’s fantastic fundraising achievements click here.