Unique crowdfunding project for homeless people makes it to the top three
Beam, an innovative project that supports homeless people through training and into rewarding work using crowdfunding has been announced as one of the three winners of the prestigious 2018 London Homelessness Awards. The team will find out if they have won the top prize of £30,000 at a special event in October.
The project was set up by Alex Stephany. He said: “I’ve lived most of my life in London and have always been troubled by homelessness. I’d do what thousands of Londoners do: buy some food for rough sleepers and volunteer at events like Crisis at Christmas. But I began to wonder if I could do more, using what I’ve learned working in technology. I’ve always been interested in connecting people online and saw an opportunity to do something similar in homelessness.”
The Beam project supports homeless people and those at risk of homelessness (known as “members”). Once referred by a charity partner, each member creates an online profile telling their story and setting out a transparent employment plan (known as a “Journey”) and budget for their training needs. Supporters then donate either to a specific member’s campaign or make a Split Donation that is divided equally between all members, on a one-off or monthly basis. . Each member is supported by a keyworker at Beam, their “Member Manager” through their journey and into work.
Tony was referred to Beam by his support worker. He said: “I had not heard of them and was a bit apprehensive. To be honest I wasn’t sure the funds could be raised. I was very sceptical. After all, why would people donate to me given my history? Then it went live and I was shocked. Beam created a profile for me – setting out my story and my journey. Within six weeks, I was fully funded. £4000!”
Tony has passed his electrical installation course level 3 and is now in work. He is on track to receive his full electrician qualification next year.
Tracy had been using drugs for 18 years. She is now in full time employment as a Recovery Coach Assistant for the Peter Bedford trust. “What was great was that every time someone made a donation, they posted an encouraging comment. The comments made me feel very special and really helped; people wrote lovely comments and also donated their hard earned money. Without Beam there is no way I would have raised the money.” The average campaign is now funded by more than 250 people.
Since launching in September, Beam’s members have received more than 4,000 donations. Each supporter gets their own “Personal Impact Page” showing them how the members they support are progressing and is kept updated by news updates from the members themselves. 28 Beam members are currently in training, with five already in full time employment.
Simon Dow chaired the judging panel for the London Homelessness Awards. He said: “This highly innovative project shows what can be achieved by using new technology to help solve a very long standing social problem. Beam has grown impressively quickly by developing a range of connections to fund and support individuals affected by homelessness allowing them to grow the skills and expertise they need to rebuild their lives.”
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. For more information, pictures or interviews please contact Mark Wall – firstname.lastname@example.org 0790 999 3278 More information about Beam is at https://wearebeam.org/campaigns