At Work: Communications - Medium and message

Indira Das-Gupta

Young persons' housing charity the Foyer Federation used a leaflet to ask MPs to tackle student poverty.

The Foyer Federation provides affordable accommodation to homeless 16 to 25-year-olds and helps them get their lives back on track by steering them into education or employment. But the 16-hour rule, which prevents people over 19 from claiming housing benefit if they study more than 16 hours a week, means that many are, in effect, stuck in a poverty trap.

In October, the charity relaunched its Give Us A Chance campaign,originally run last year, to get the rule dropped. In addition to a poster campaign targeting MPs at Westminster tube station, the charity has produced a leaflet made up of four case studies to show how the 16-hour rule is affecting young people.

"We wanted to produce something that would show the human cost of the rule, but we didn't have a budget, so we came up with the leaflet," says Louise Meincke, policy and communications officer at the Foyer Federation."We distributed it at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Foyers and it will be sent to all of the MPs who have foyers in their constituencies."

The leaflet tells the story of Michael Shillingford, who was forced to work night shifts as a waiter while he was studying full time. His health and studies seriously deteriorated as a result.

"Young people are having to choose between studying and accommodation - it's not much of a choice," says Meincke. "We hope the leaflet shows how the rule is stopping so many from fulfilling their potential."

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