IKEA Transforms Stores Into Stuffy Showrooms Reflecting Housing Crisis
By Mikelle Leow, 08 Mar 2023
Often picture-perfect and a huge dose of inspiration for homes large and tiny, IKEA’s walk-in catalogs are now offering a window into the murky realities of people dealing with the housing emergency in the UK.
Teaming up with its national charity partner Shelter, IKEA has converted four showrooms into Real Life Roomsets highlighting the cramped and sometimes dangerous living environments of actual people who have been forced into temporary shelters. The under-hauls can be seen in the Birmingham, Bristol, Hammersmith, and Warrington stores, which are located near cities enduring some of the nation’s worst conditions of homelessness.
The poignant displays come in response to IKEA’s survey discovering that one in five people in the UK is concerned about no longer having a place to stay. To cling to their current homes, 18% of respondents have taken on more work, and 17% have skipped meals, in the past year.
The sets reflect the unpredictable situations of people like Kate, a nurse and teacher who suddenly became homeless after losing her job in the pandemic. Then, someone set her tent on fire, leading Kate and her 24-year-old daughter to move into a room that was dirty and unsafe.
“It’s like a nightmare we can’t wake up from,” recounts the woman. The room’s curtains were peeling off the rails and its carpets were stained. Kate and her daughter often had to skip meals as there was no kitchen. Some of the residents were also aggressive, making them feel wary all the time.
With a shortage of social housing in the UK, many families have been stuck in uncomfortable “temporary” places of accommodation, like emergency hostels and tight apartments, for years, and are then chased out on very short notice.
“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,” explains Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer at 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,” Jelkeby continues.
The gritty simulations bring the emergency closer to home, to the line of sight of shoppers, to raise awareness about the houselessness crisis.
Outside of these four walls, IKEA and Shelter are calling upon the construction of 90,000 social homes in the country per year by 2030. They are also working together to bring forth a new Infrastructure Levy to give affected families affordable, livable homes.
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