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SIGBI President’s January 2023 Message

Dear Members

Happy New Year, I’m sure that we all share the hope that the year ahead will bring about peace and greater understanding for everyone.

Unites Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres, in his new year’s message to the world states ‘In 2023, we need peace, now more than ever. Peace with one another, through dialogue to end conflict. Peace with nature and our climate, to build a more sustainable world. Peace in the home, so women and girls can live in dignity and safety’.

As 2022 was ending, Top UN agency officials and civic society organisation heads joined forces on 29 December to urge Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to reverse their ban on women working for NGOs that provide aid relief – banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans.

The UN officials insisted female staff were ‘key to every aspect of the humanitarian response in Afghanistan. In particular, this was because they have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach. Their work must continue as teachers, nutrition experts, community health workers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors, and heads of organisations’.

‘This latest order forbidding women from working in NGOs ‘will not only deprive them and their families of income but will also completely erase their only social life and deny them an opportunity to contribute to the country’s development’.

It has been announced that in the coming days, senior officials will be heading for the country in search of a solution to the crisis over women’s participation in relief work and access to education.

As the year 2022 witnessed events of monumental significance – the war in Ukraine, the global financial crisis, increased poverty and the climate emergency – there were also some positive news stories.

Cities across the US and Western Europe are adopting a remarkably simple homelessness policy which is seeing the numbers of rough sleepers plummet. Called ‘Housing First’ – as the name suggests, it provides homes to people without preconditions, then adding in support tailored to their needs.

Previously In the UK, most local authorities’ housing policy required people to be sober, engaging with support services, seeking employment, and have completed courses on managing a tenancy – only then could they be considered housing ready.

In March 2020, when the nation was put into lockdown, the UK government rolled out its ‘Everyone In’ policy – an emergency scheme to accommodate rough sleepers.

37,430 people were found temporary accommodation and thus supported from a secure and settled base. The results were astonishing – less than a year later, the scheme had helped 26,167 previously homeless people find permanent housing – ‘Housing First’ by another name.

Greater Manchester Authority has launched a new two-year Housing First pilot, funded by central government. Mayor Andy Burnham reported ‘In these modern times which seem to become harsher and more polarised with every week, it’s wonderful to find that a different world can still exist’.

Thank you all, as you continue working throughout 2023, to make a different world possible.

In friendship

Cathy Cottridge
SIGBI President