Register to vote: what you need to know

polling station - Register to vote
A General Election is coming on 4 July. Are you ready to vote?

In this article, we’ll run through how you can register to vote and why voting is critical for supporting people sleeping rough in London and beyond.

Why voting matters for ending rough sleeping

Voting is important because it helps shape the policies and priorities of our next Government. When you vote, you can push for issues that matter to you and your community.

As a quick scan of the news will tell you, the state of homelessness is in crisis and drastic measures are needed to help people recover.

Now we have a chance to make sure our voices are heard. By demanding change, you can help make sure ending homelessness is a priority for our next leaders.

Politicians need to know that their constituents (i.e., you!) want to see policies that tackle affordable housing, mental health services, and support for people with complex needs.

How to register to vote

Voting in this election might be slightly more tricky than it has been in the past.

Currently, when you register to vote, you’ll be asked for a valid form of photo ID (like a Passport or Driver’s License) or a Voter Authority Certificate.

A Voter Authority Certificate is a way to provide who you are so that you can vote. It’s free to apply. You’ll just need a photo of yourself and your National Insurance number.

The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate to vote in the General Election on 4 July is 26 June.

Registering to vote should only take about five minutes and can be done online or by post.

a guide to voting and registering to vote in the upcoming election

Helping people register to vote

For many of the people we support, this will be their first time voting in a General Election. This could be for a variety of reasons including not knowing how to register or being ineligible until now.

At our Day Centre, we’ll be supporting people to register to vote as well as explaining why voting matters. Anyone eligible can register to vote even if they don’t have a fixed or permanent address, as long as they register by 18 June.

A lot of people we work with feel ignored by and rejected from politics so this will give us the opportunity to engage them and remind them that their opinions matter too.

Our team will guide people through the registration process, help them get the necessary ID, and answer any questions they have. This way, we’re making sure people can advocate for themselves in this election and beyond.

Who you vote for is up to you, but we need to make homelessness a priority

Deciding who to vote for is a personal choice.

However, it’s crucial to think about how each candidate and party plans to end rough sleeping and support those struggling. Choosing leaders who focus on homelessness can lead to better policies and funding to support work like THe Connection’s services.

By voting with homelessness in mind, you can help make it a top priority for the government.

people voting at the polls
People voting at polling stations.

What promises do we want to see?

From the Conservative, Labour, and other party Manifestos, we hope to see:

  • Urgent investment in affordable social housing for people with complex needs
  • A shortage of affordable, supported tenancies creates has a knock on effect on the whole housing system.

    In our area, more people are looking for housing than there is housing available which can make it even harder for people with very complex needs to find a home.

    Until there is more accommodation available in the system, this dire situation will continue.

  • Investment in flexible treatment services for people sleeping rough:
  • We know that early experiences of abuse can lead to lifelong trauma for the individuals and severe mental health problems. We see these issues in 85% of the people we support.

    If these are not addressed, people can end up on the street as adults with undiagnosed, untreated and severe mental health problems. Drugs and alcohol can become coping mechanism for this when people can’t access satfer forms of support. This risks issues of addiction and further harm.

    Even though we know this affects a lot of people sleeping rough, substance use and mental health needs can be a key barrier to accessing support services.

    Because of this, we need to make sure that people sleeping rough have access to mental health and substance use support. Without this, many will never be able to make a start on their journey home.

  • Gender-specific support for women sleeping rough:
  • Our experience tells us that women experience homelessness differently to men and require a different response.

    Many women sleeping rough have experienced abuse and trauma. They face an extremely high risk of violence and constantly endure harassment. As a result, many have multiple, complex needs, making it extremely challenging to find appropriate accommodation for them.

    Services often undercount women’s homelessness, leading to many services being aimed at men by default.

    Without tailored support, many women will continue to avoid homelessness services and struggle on their journey home.

    To learn more about how work supporting people sleeping rough, including advocacy in Westminster join our Connection Community below!