Beam has been announced as a winner of the 2018 London Homelessness Awards. They have set up an innovative service using crowdfunding to support homeless people and those at risk of homelessness to access training and get into rewarding work. We have already heard from two of their members (HERE) and their founder Alex Stephany (HERE), but we wanted to hear from someone who supports homeless people through Beam. Darren Lampert, a self-employed commodities specialist, told us how he got involved.
I’ve worked in London for many years now, but when you’re a busy commuter you don’t stop to notice the homeless situation around you. Since moving to London earlier this year, the reality of the homeless situation is so much more apparent.
I saw the same homeless people in the same places, day after day. Like many other people, I was torn between wanting to do something to help, but not wanting to unintentionally make a bad situation worse by providing money that may be misused.
One morning as I was skimming through social media, I saw an article linking me to the Beam website. It was very engaging, and I spent some time reading through the members stories and how the process worked. It was a fresh approach to a longstanding problem – working with members who had worked very hard to get themselves back on their feet and were just needing some help and support to get back into work and become self-sufficient.
The message resonated with me – and I was very happy to register my details and start supporting the members, with ad-hoc donations and a regular monthly payment. It is a smart way for people like me to help; you know that your contributions will be managed and used wisely – with the peace of mind that Beam have done all the hard graft in working with members to ensure suitability, putting together training plans for individuals with all the necessary checks and safeguards in place. I was left with the easiest task of all – just clicking the ‘Donate’ button!
One of the other important differentiators about Beam is that the profiles on the site are of individuals, each with their own stories to tell. I have learned a lot about homelessness through reading these profiles – and it really has changed my understanding of what homelessness means and how easy it is for someone to fall into that spiral. The member profiles really are a sobering read, and at their core – they show how good people, through bad luck, bad choices or just unlucky circumstances end up in a downward spiral.
It’s so easy to empathise with the members and to see the hardships they have had to overcome to reach this point. I’ve found myself hitting that ‘Donate’ button many more times over the last few months!
Knowing that Beam have done all the hard work to understand their members needs have carried out the due diligence on appropriateness of training options – I know 100% that my donations will make a difference. I trust Beam implicitly, and my donations are a vote of confidence in the Beam team and of course the Beam members, for whom I have the utmost respect, their efforts in getting to where they are now is quite inspiring!
It is also a very good feature of the Beam website to be able to leave comments for members whenever you donate. My comments are usually quite general but having read the members stories – it’s good to be able to leave some positive words of encouragement – and to show that people really do care (they just don’t always know how best to help). It’s so much more apparent to me how easy it is for an individual to fall into homelessness – it’s changed my outlook on the problem – and made me even more of an active supporter to Beam and some of the other very worthy charities in this space.
An important point for me is that Beam doesn’t offer services in competition with the key outreach charities, but instead works in partnership – complementing each other’s services for the greater good of the individuals. This to me is what a social enterprise is all about – everything is done with the best interests of the members in mind, working together to bring about positive change.
It is a good way to give and a good way to support people who need that extra push and support to escape the cycle of homelessness.
The final order of the top three, and the allocation of the prize money (£30000, £20000 and £10000), will be revealed at a very special event at City Hall on 18th October, with the prizes presented by James Murray, Deputy Mayor. For more information go to www.lhawards.org.uk.