A civilised society guarantees everyone a decent home – somewhere to feel safe and secure, a place to retreat to or a base from which to take on the world. I’m not too prescriptive about the type of home so long as it’s safe, secure, sanitary and affordable. I study public housing and I’ve seen tower block flats and suburban semis described as ‘Buckingham Palace’; in each case, the key thing was that sense of home as a place of comfort, refuge and succour.
A home is a springboard – for some that may be to happy domesticity, for others to engagement with a wider world, but always home is the essential condition of a more fulfilled life. Practically, it provides a necessary foundation for work, education and healthcare; for some who have been homeless, just a fixed address may enable a huge leap forward. Psychologically, it allows friendships to develop and community to grow.
I could say more, others will. They will rightly suggest that a civilised society is rooted not only in our toleration of difference but in our embrace of it, as well as in our recognition of so much we share. They may point to personal growth and self-expression, or towards a participant role in a wider free and democratic culture. But for me those possibilities and choices are rooted in a society which values each of its members. That regard – that duty of care – is demonstrated in the shelter offered and provided to all.