A Safe Place To Be

Safe, secure and decent place to call home

We believe everyone should have a safe, secure and decent place to call home


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We want people who have been forced from their homes to have access to the support they need to start a new life, free from conflict persecution or trafficking.

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We want safe, secure and decent shelter to be better recognised worldwide and implemented as a fundamental human right.

What is the problem we're responding to?

The right to safe and secure shelter is set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[1] which states that everyone is entitled to an adequate standard of living, including access to food, clothing and housing. For people to live with dignity they need access to not only basic housing, but the ability to create a happy home in which they feel safe and secure. However, the reality is that millions of people have no access to safe shelter. 

Currently over 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of conflict or persecution (that’s one person every 2 seconds); an estimated 25.9 million of those people are refugees and over 50% of refugees are children[2] 

  • Trafficking and modern slavery is a hidden phenomenon, but it is estimated that 40.3million people have been trafficked[3]

  • Tens of millions of children are estimated to be living on the streets worldwide[4]

  • In the UK the number of people sleeping on the streets has increased by 165% since 2010[5]

A sixth of the world’s population (approx. 1.2 billion people) is living in slums, many with no secure tenancy or rights over the land they live on[6]

  1. https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/(opens in new window)

  2. https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html(opens in new window)

  3. https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_575479/lang--en/index.htm(opens in new window)

  4. https://www.unicef.org/sowc06/pdfs/sowc06_fullreport.pdf(opens in new window)

  5. https://www.homeless.org.uk/facts/homelessness-in-numbers/rough-sleeping/rough-sleeping-our-analysis(opens in new window)

  6. http://unhabitat.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02-old/Slum%20Almanac%202015-2016_EN.pdf(opens in new window)

A school pupil helping an elderly man use a computer

What we know works

Forced migration

Comic Relief is recognised as a leading funder of refugee and migrant work and has been in this space both in the UK and internationally for over 25 years. Based on what we’ve learnt we are committed to continue to work at both a strategic advocacy and litigation level as well funding grassroots delivery of services. 

Learning from our work and others shows that improving agency and providing platforms for people to make change themselves and tell their own stories, is more effective than ‘doing to’ people. For this reason, ‘Putting people at the heart of our work’ is a key principle and one which applies to all elements of ‘A safe place to be.’

Homelessness and Insecure Shelter

Homelessness is a truly systemic issue caused by structural inefficiencies, poorly integrated services and insufficient resources. There is however a growing coalition of organisations across sectors that believe that homelessness can be ended with the right political will, funding and ambition. Although sourcing safe and secure housing is a crucial part of solving homelessness, it is not the whole answer and we have decided that there are others who are better placed to tackle issues of housing supply and affordability. We will fund work that supports people to recover from homelessness and resolve their situation rather than manage their homelessness. 

What is also apparent is the public’s growing awareness of and empathy with homelessness as an issue this represents a sea change in public opinion and an opportunity to combine this with pressure on Government to put our weight behind bold thinking and solutions emerging from the homelessness sector.

How have we contributed so far?

Comic Relief has been funding work around safe and secure shelter for marginalised communities for over 25 years. 

UK homelessness

In the UK we have funded a range of organisations providing both important services and working to change laws, government policies and public attitudes around homelessness. This includes:

  • Supporting essential services to support people who are homeless in communities across the UK alongside the development of new solutions such as the Housing First model for England. 

  • Supporting frontline services across the UK through our ‘Steps Away From the Street’ grant programme, funding essential costs like salaries and running costs for organisations like the Choir With No Name(opens in new window) in Birmingham and Julian House’s bike workshop(opens in new window) in Exeter.

Forced migration

Our refugee and asylum work has funded psychosocial support as well as policy change work to make sure basic human rights are met. In informal settlements across the world we have supported communities and other partners, including government, to drive forward community-led approaches to creating and protecting safe, secure and decent places to live. 

  • We’ve supported two organisations (Help Refugees and Safe Passage) working in the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp that brought the first unaccompanied child refugees to the UK under the ‘Dubs’ amendment of the Immigration Act.

  • Successfully supported the campaign to reduce the length of time pregnant women can be detained to 72 hours.

  • Funded organisations that have improved livelihoods in Uganda by influencing changes to the law around land rights and improved access to education for refugees.