Sarah Duff from Hope into Action: Belfast tells us about the opening of their franchise's first ever house.

Did you know that infants who experience homelessness are significantly more likely to have health problems, hospitalizations and trips to emergency departments than children who face poverty but did not experience homelessness as an infant?[1] Yet in 2023 there were nearly 20,000 babies under the age of one living in temporary accommodation in England[2]. 

Last month at Hope Into Action Belfast, we had the joy and privilege of welcoming our first ever tenant into our first ever HiA home. What’s more, our tenant is on the 5-week countdown to welcome a precious baby into the world and we feel so blessed to be part of providing a safe, welcoming environment for this infant to start their life. 

While this month has been marked by deep celebration, it has come from many steep learning curves. In the process of preparing our first house, we’ve attempted to navigate the minefield of housing requirements, applications, landlord registration and learning to access public funds. In the process of finding a tenant, we’ve wrestled with our emotions, and are constantly learning how to balance the battle between our head and hearts. We’ve turned up, waited and been stood up by potential tenants. We’ve prayed and longed for them to want it as much for themselves as we want it for them. We’ve juggled nerves, joy, uncertainty, excitement and major imposter syndrome.  

Our friendship & support team have been patient, loyal and willing throughout this journey as they’ve walked alongside with us. They’ve lifted hoovers, hammers and holy hands as they’ve polished, prepared and prayed for a tenant they hadn’t yet met. Our F&S team encouraged us as they kept full faith that God would provide the right person at the right moment for our house, and He did just that.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and as we look back at all the referrals, meetings and assessments that ended in a ‘no’ or ‘not yet’, we can see that God had His hand in it all. So much so, that one of our F&S team members, who at the start of the process we had assigned to the house before having a tenant, has a long career as a midwife and is now supporting our tenant in these late stages of pregnancy.  

Inevitably since the move-in we’ve had a few teething problems, but these have shown our tenant’s willingness, self-awareness and a great sense of humour as she’s navigating her first experience of independent living. We’ve seen our tenant engage consistently in community and she is a joy to be around. She has such deep love for her unborn child and we are so excited to see her step into this new role as a mum. 

We are thrilled that both our young mum & her new baby have a roof over their head, and more importantly that they are surrounded by support & community at this critical moment in their story. We have also been so blessed by our tenant and F&S team in this critical moment in our story as we step into this unknown space to see what God will do in the future as He moves in the city of Belfast. 


[1] Clark, R.E., Weinreb, L., Flahive, J.M. and Seifert, R.W., 2019. Infants exposed to homelessness: health, health care use, and health spending from birth to age six. Health Affairs, 38(5), pp.721-728. 

[2] Department for Levelling Up,Housing & Communities, 2023. Statutory homelessness in England: April to June 2023.