There’s going to be a census this year – it happens every 10 years. The census day is 27 March. We understand that census forms will be sent out by post this time, rather than being delivered by hand. If you have a postal address, especially if you are registered to vote, you will probably get a form. If you don’t have a postal address, you can call the census helpline on 0300 0201 101 from 4 March to get one, and you can arrange to have it sent to a postal address or possibly hand-delivered to you at a location of your choice.
According to the census web site, the government is employing “special enumerators” whose job it is to make sure that people “who live a less conventional lifestyle, such as Gypsies and travellers, people on boats, people living in shelters, or even on the streets” get counted on census day. And “libraries, places of worship and other meeting places are being encouraged to act as census completion stations”.
So why bother? There are some good reasons why boaters should complete the census. Most important, there are no accurate figures for the number of people living on boats, and that makes us as a community and our distinct needs invisible.For example, if we are threatened with homelessness we may well want support to stay living on a boat, rather than having to move into a house.
There is a massive policy gap in both central and local government regarding people who live on boats. With accurate figures for the number of people living on boats, government departments and local authorities have less reason to ignore any specific needs we may have. Accurate figures also mean that we can use them for campaigning. There are thousands of us, and we’re not going to move into houses – it’s time to make sure they know that!
You can find out more at www.census.gov.uk