Never Underestimate The Power Of One Person

The silhouette of a man
Silhouette photo by Liftarn is licensed under the Public Domain

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reckons that 3.8 million people in the United Kingdom face destitution. Universal Credit, the country’s social safety net, doesn’t provide enough to cover basic needs. As well, there are people who don’t qualify for Universal Credit at all. The system is not working1.

Stuart Potts knows about this from personal experience. He’s been homeless, had a nervous breakdown and done time in prison for a string of misdemeanours. Currently, he has housing and receives Universal Credit. After paying his rent, he has £100 left over per week.

Potts is sharing his flat with people who are unhoused. He helps them to gather together the resources to move into housing. As the article linked below attests, this is not a simple process. People need identification, a health card, a source of funds, and a landlord willing to rent.

Why does Potts do this? He says his mom raised him ‘proper.’ Also, when he was at his lowest moments, it was people (not the system) that helped him. Reflecting on what he has now, Potts says,

“I don’t need this space – I can sit in my bedroom and watch TV. If more people helped others, the world would be a better place, wouldn’t it?”

Returning to the Joseph Rowntree report at the top of this post, we can see that the systems that frame our daily lives are often unhelpful and need to change. But, as this story illustrates, individual actions can also make a big difference for people who are struggling.

Read more about Stuart Potts in The Guardian: The Man Who Turned His Home Into A Homeless Shelter


  1. Read the latest report at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Destitution in the UK 2023.