How We Began
Shelter Housing Aid and Research Project (SHARP) was setup in the early 1970’s by a group of volunteers who were deeply concerned about poor housing and homelessness and wanted to do something for local people who were suffering bad conditions.
The aim of the new project was outlined:
“To secure a decent home for every household at a price they can afford”
We believe it is a basic human right for everyone to have a warm, safe, secure and affordable home. SHARP began offering free, confidential and impartial advice and assistance to people in housing need. This is still the heart of our work. In addition to this, we have been able to develop a wide range of services for people with housing problems and now have paid, trained staff who operate in an area that covers Leicestershire and Rutland.
Our funding and the current economic climate
Until the mid-1990s SHARP relied upon a small number of annual grants – from national Shelter, Leicester City Council and the then Department of the Environment – to fund most of its housing aid work, although local fundraising remained important. From 2000 onwards these grants were steadily reduced in real terms. By 2007 they were no more.
At present, SHARP receives income via a Leicester City Council contract which is delivered in conjunction with the CAB and Age UK. This helps to provide an advice service for the City. SHARP also receives funds from the Big Lottery Fund. This allows us to recruit and train volunteers who then help to deliver the services which we provide. We also receive funding from the Lloyds Foundation which is used to work closely with those who have been sleeping rough in the City on a long term basis.
In addition, SHARP receives support from a number of trusts, foundations and other organisations together with donations from the general public. We are immensely grateful for the support we receive. Without this, we could not provide the services we do. However, the demand for our services continue to grow. There is a real shortage of affordable housing in the City and County and benefit cuts, zero hour contracts and unemployment are just some of the ongoing factors which have lead to the increased need for SHARP’s services.