By Michala Rudman, Project Officer, Empty Homes Wales
With so many Empty Homes in the UK, and so many people in need of safe, suitable, affordable housing, Valentine’s Day seemed an ideal opportunity to ask owners, partners and Empty Homes professionals to fall in love with their empty homes again. I’ve said it before, but working with Empty Homes is arduous and takes an absolute age – You have to be dedicated, patient and in it for the long haul. Suffocating under a mountain of never-ending paperwork, legality and bureaucracy is tempered only by the hope that all the hard work will pay off, and you can help create a lovely home in the community again.
For me, there’s great satisfaction in visiting a property and seeing the vision you promised the owner becoming a reality. Speaking to the long suffering neighbours is also a boost, as they are usually at their wits end about the problems caused by the empty property next door. People are still shocked that Empty Homes Wales exists purely to help them, and are really keen to engage with us and do something about their empty property. There has been great feedback about the positive assistance from the Local Authorities as well, and its important people know they have options.
This #LoveEmptyHomes campaign is about getting the Empty Homes Wales message out there in as many ways as possible. Increasing levels of digital inclusion means that one message can be shared and spread far and wide with just the click of a button – the wonders of technology mean I know that so far the social reach for this is to nearly 111,000 people – which is amazing!
The purpose of #LoveEmptyHomes is to increase the ways people can get in touch with me, rather than just by me directly contacting them. Yes, we have posted cards directly to owners as this works (I’ve already had 3 responses this morning!), but with #LoveEmptyHomes I can reach so many people who come into contact with Empty Homes directly or indirectly – those who live next to them, know about them in their community, as well as those that own them.
Off the back of this campaign, I will have raised awareness to the point where the next few weeks and months will be very busy and I will never want to see another Valentine’s Day card again! There is so much help and support out there, from our partners, Local Authorities and Empty Homes Wales, and we just need to get the message out.
And perhaps the first step in that all that starts with them knowing about me and Empty Homes Wales.