4 IKEA stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

A shopping trip to IKEA usually involves walking through the well-designed roomsets, from stylish living rooms to sanctuary-style bedrooms, but four IKEA stores in the UK have had a make-under to highlight the housing emergency in the UK and the real living conditions of those who are forced into temporary accommodation.

IKEA and its national charity partner, Shelter, have launched ‘Real Life Roomsets’ in its Hammersmith, Bristol, Warrington and Birmingham stores, all in or near cities experiencing some of the worst levels of homelessness in the country.

Offering a stark contrast to IKEA’s showrooms, the ‘Real Life Roomsets’ highlights the often cramped, dangerous, and grotty spaces that those experience in temporary accommodation.

Research shows that one in every 208 people in England is currently experiencing homelessness, with over 11 million adults in the UK worried about losing their current home.

IKEA released the following statistics to highlight the following:

  • In London, 1 in 58 people are experiencing homelessness
  • In Manchester, 1 in 74 people are experiencing homelessness
  • In Birmingham, 1 in 80 people are experiencing homelessness
  • In Bristol, 1 in 183 people are experiencing homelessness.

4 ikea stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

IKEA Shelter Real Life Roomsets, Bristol

Temporary accommodation (emergency hostels, B&Bs, one room bedsits and cramped flats) is provided by councils to qualifying families who are experiencing homelessness. It’s designed to be temporary, but with a shortage in social housing, some families are finding themselves living in temporary accommodation for years.

4 ikea stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

IKEA x Shelter ‘real life roomsets’

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, says the roomsets highlight ‘the grim living situations that families who become homeless are having to face’ and warned that with rising rents and no end to the cost of living in sight, ‘more people are going to become homeless this year’.

Four real-life stories are being told as part of the campaign. Take a look at the roomsets below, which will be in store until the end of March.

4 ikea stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

IKEA x Shelter ‘real life roomsets’

Sam, from London, whose story is told in IKEA’s Hammersmith store:

After a relationship breakdown, Sam and her three children found themselves homeless and placed in a hostel that wasn’t appropriate. After seven weeks of living alone in her car while her children stayed with a friend, Sam was eventually placed in temporary accommodation, but it was out of her area and too far away from her children’s schools, so they had to move to live with their dad. Sam was assaulted on two occasions while living in her temporary accommodation, which had black mould and, due to a hole in her front door where the letterbox should have been, there was an overriding smell of cannabis constantly throughout the flat. The stress of the situation meant Sam had to take leave from work, and she worries what the long-term impact will be of her not being able to care for her children during this time.

4 ikea stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

IKEA Shelter Real Life Roomsets, Bristol

Kate, from the South West, whose story is told in IKEA’s Bristol store:

As a qualified nurse and teacher, Kate was working shifts in a children’s home when she lost her job and was made homeless after the pandemic. Before Kate was referred to Shelter, she had suffered severe domestic abuse and experienced harassment from an ex-partner that forced her and her daughter to leave their rented accommodation. After briefly staying in a friend’s campervan, the pair were forced to live in a tent in mid-winter before it was set on fire by vandals.

Now in a B&B, Kate has no cooking facilities, no fridge, no microwave and cannot get out of debt, still suffering from the profound impact of the domestic abuse she suffered.

4 ikea stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

IKEA Shelter Real Life Roomsets, Warrington

Channah, from the North West, whose story is told in IKEA’s Warrington store:

Channah lived in the North West in a cramped emergency B&B with her three daughters. She was served an eviction notice in December 2021, and in May 2022 was moved into a B&B with her three children, then 10, 14 and 15. The B&B was a small room with a bunk bed, and had a kitchenette right next to the bed, leaving minimal space for the family. As a result, when studying for her GCSEs, her daughter often had to revise on the bathroom floor.

Aside from space, the conditions were also completely unacceptable. Channah says: ‘We once came home to notice that our bags had been rearranged, searched, and gone through. My children couldn’t find the tablet they use for their homework, the floor was damp and paint was all over our belongings. I felt violated at the invasion of our privacy. However, upon ringing the council, I was told that I had signed a licence agreement which meant they could access the room without notice and at any time. All I wanted was to have a space to call home where my children could study and achieve what they can. Our situation is greatly impacting their education and I feel powerless.’

4 ikea stores undergo a make-under to highlight the reality of temporary accomodation

IKEA Shelter Real Life Roomsets, Birmingham

Claire, from Birmingham, whose story is told in IKEA’s Birmingham store:

Claire and her three children have been experiencing homelessness since December 2021 after they had to leave their home due to an abusive relationship. Claire had been living in a homelessness centre since March 2021 and was later moved to a ground floor maisonette, which was a shared flat, but was uninhabitable. She says: ‘We carried all the stuff down into the new flat and when we got in there we were hit with this bad smell. It was like farm animals had lived there. Paper was falling off the walls, there was dirt everywhere, broken cupboards, blood stains on mattresses, faeces stains on there. My two-year-old was crawling all over the dirty carpet. My 10-year-old son burst out crying.’

The roomsets are part of IKEA and Shelter’s wider campaign demanding for 90,000 social homes to be built a year by 2030 to help address the housing emergency.

‘The focus on building “affordable” homes rather than social housing is a distraction from finding a real solution to the housing emergency, which currently relies on the unsuitable provision of temporary accommodation where families are being forced to live in uninhabitable and unacceptable conditions,’ says Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK & Ireland.

‘At IKEA, we believe that everyone deserves a place to call home, which is why we’re so proud to partner with Shelter in demanding for long-term change, whilst also helping those directly affected by the housing emergency in our local communities.’

Visit www.IKEA.co.uk/Shelter to read more about ‘Real Life Roomsets’ and how to support the campaign.

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