Beam, an innovative new crowdfunding platform that supports homeless people through training and work, has won the London Homelessness Awards 2018, and the first prize of £30,000.
Beam launched in September 2017, with a simple model that allows members of the public to donate online to help homeless people access funding for the training they need to get into work. There are now over 1,500 people helping homeless people overcome homelessness for the long-term. 28 members (ex-homeless people who are supported through Beam) are now in training. all 12 of the members to have passed their training are in work in their target careers.
Alex Stephany, Founder and CEO of Beam said “We were surprised and delighted to receive 1st prize in the London Homelessness Awards. It’s especially exciting to get recognition from experts and leading CEOs in the sector that we are doing something important. A year after launching, we’ve seen that Beam’s model provides a long-term solution to homelessness for those we support while allowing employers to access the huge untapped talents and potential of London’s homeless population. The £30,000 funding will allow Beam to further expand its work supporting homeless people through training and into rewarding work.”
Simon Dow of the London Housing Foundation chaired the judging panel for this year’s awards. He said: “The judges were very positive about all of our finalists but in the end felt that Beam had the edge on taking a simple idea and through the use of technology and new media producing a modern and relevant way of connecting potential funders to individuals seeking help. We believe that they can go on to even greater things and replicate the model in other areas.”
The guest speaker at the winners’ ceremony at City Hall this week was James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing. He spoke about the work being done to address rough sleeping, and that even one person sleeping rough was one too many.
Other prize winners, winning £20000 and £10000 were the Psychology in Hostels Project run by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation trust, Thames Reach and Lambeth Council, and the Pan London Reciprocal run by Safer London.
More details of the winning projects, and the three highly commended, are set out below:
First Prize (£30,000)
Beam is the world’s 1st crowdfunding platform for employment training for homeless people. Beam also supports homeless people on its platform (known as “members”) through training and into rewarding work. Members are recommended to Beam by over 15 respected homelessness charities including Centrepoint, St Mungo’s and Thames Reach. Beam then builds an asset-based, personalised career plan with the member and crowdfunds not only the training costs, but any financial barriers to career progression, including childcare. 90% of donations from the public go transparently to “Budget items” that are listed on each member’s campaign. Beam purchases items on behalf of members and further provides work experience and job roles through its employer network.
In just a year, Beam has proven a powerful new model to create opportunities for a diverse group of people experiencing homelessness, who benefit hugely from high quality training and qualifications as well as increased self-confidence from messages of support from those who fund the campaigns (known as “supporters”). Beam has raised over £150,000 from over 1,800 supporters to fund campaigns for 40 members. 25 members are currently in training, 12 are in jobs and just 2 have withdrawn from the programme.
Beam “graduates” already in work include Joe – homeless for over a decade – now working as a crane rigger on the Northern Line extension. Joe was referred by Thames Reach and raised £1,132 from 19 supporters in just five days. Other Beam graduates are working as electricians, delivery drivers and construction site managers, while other Beam members are training for rewarding careers in everything from bricklaying to accountancy.
Prize winner (£20,000)
Psychology in Hostels
This partnership between South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Thames Reach and the London Borough of Lambeth delivers ‘Psychologically Informed Environments’ (PIE) to address the health inequalities found in homelessness. The Psychology in Hostels project wraps three hostel sites in a ‘psychological envelope’ where everything that happens is informed by a psychological understanding of the service user’s needs.
The psychologists work with staff and residents to design and deliver the service. By offering a highly skilled staff mix of doctoral level clinical psychologists and hostel teams, many of the usual barriers to service access are removed.
By being on site the psychologists become familiar faces, and so can work indirectly via the keyworker or creatively engage residents through informal activities which can feel less threatening (e.g. walking the dog, gardening).
Over three years 200 service users have engaged with the team and 1650 therapy sessions were offered with 78% attendance rate. 1150 hostel staff-focused interventions for Thames Reach staff have resulted in an increased sense of personal accomplishment and increased work engagement.
Prize winner (£10,000)
Pan London Housing Reciprocal
Safer London launched the Pan-London Housing Reciprocal (PLHR) in January 2017, a new and innovative way to prevent homelessness that does not exist in any other city or country worldwide.
Their research found that survivors of domestic abuse in London often experience long periods of housing instability, moving between refuges, hostels, temporary accommodation and short term private tenancies. Insecure housing can be a re-traumatising experience that can put survivors at further risk. For those with a social tenancy, the prospect of losing this security can be an additional barrier to fleeing abuse.
To facilitate the Reciprocal, Safer London has secured the agreement of 32 local authorities and 43 housing associations to support tenants experiencing domestic abuse, other forms of violence against women/girls, gang-related violence, hate crime or other abuse. This allows resettlement to an area where tenants are away for risk and can keep a social tenancy. They have already supported 132 adults and children who are fleeing abuse to find safe, long-term housing; an average of three households moving per month.
Safer London has also reached approximately 1000 professionals through delivering over 35 training and awareness raising sessions, ranging from webinars to two high profile events at City Hall.
In a sector that was divided by local authority boundaries 75 housing partners are now working together to support their tenants at risk of abuse. Coordinated by Safer London, this new approach demonstrates an innovative way of working in partnership that offers huge potential for the housing sector across the UK.
Cambridge House Safer Renting
Eviction from private rented housing is the primary driver of rising homelessness in London. Safer Renting works with people in bottom-end private rented housing (‘slum’ rentals), providing advice and advocacy to prevent homelessness. Our clients typically have little or no knowledge of their housing rights and are not connected to mainstream networks of advice. The service:
- Reaches at-risk tenants and victims of criminal landlords
- Provides expert outreach advice and advocacy
- Secures accessible legal representation
- Provides non-legal advocacy support where appropriate
These activities help tenants achieve a range of positive outcomes, minimizing the risk of homelessness by:
- Sustaining tenancies through advocacy and preventing illegal evictions
- Challenging ‘no fault’ evictions to delay or prevent repossession
- Supporting tenants to find suitable housing
- Supporting tenants to secure compensation
- Equipping tenants with knowledge of their housing rights
- Referral to broader support e.g. health, debt advice, migrant advice/support
Our mobile outreach teams identify at-risk tenants of offending landlords by intelligence gathering across multiple local authority teams. We provide customized advice and hands-on advocacy, intervening where there is high risk of homelessness. We have worked with 200 households in partnership with four London boroughs (Croydon, Hounslow, Enfield, Waltham Forest), with the following outcomes:
- 77% homelessness prevention where the tenants’ preferred outcome was secured
- 100% street homelessness prevention
- 100% illegal eviction prevention
- 6 successful cases to secure out-of-court compensation for tenants
Brent Single Homeless Prevention Service
Brent Single Homeless Prevention Service (SHPS) is the first homeless prevention service for single people in the UK to be delivered on a ‘payment by results’ basis, supporting the Local Authority to achieve their obligations under the Homelessness Reduction Act.
Crisis and Thames Reach are working together with the London Borough of Brent and Bridges Fund Management, a specialist impact investor, to support up to 1,755 people over two years. Working with single people – and other households without dependent children – the programme seeks to engage with those at risk of homelessness early to prevent homelessness, and to help those already homeless find suitable accommodation.
The programme has been designed – by commissioners in partnership with the third sector – to reward providers for achieving sustained, long-term housing outcomes for these people. And because of this focus on outcomes, the providers have much more flexibility to tailor their interventions to individual circumstances.
To date the service has supported 287 people, and already moved 111 people away from homelessness and rough sleeping.
SHPS helps the Local Authority in Brent meet its statutory requirements under the HRA, enabling it to support a group of people that have often been neglected by existing services (because they did not meet the criteria for statutory housing provision or for support from homeless organisations).
But it goes much further than that: the programme aims to transform service users’ circumstances, enabling them to sustain high-quality stable housing, and thereby creating the necessary long-term foundations for a better life.
Croydon’s Gateway, Community Connect and Food Stop (AGREED James Osbourne e mail 11th July)
Croydon’s Gateway approach prevents households from experiencing crisis and having to rely on statutory services. Focussing on early intervention and prevention it assists residents that are homeless, at risk of homelessness or struggling financially.
Community Connect/Food Stop moves the innovative Gateway approach into the community. It enables the community to develop its own solutions for residents, help prevent homelessness and build community resilience.
In 2017/2018 the Gateway approach has:
- Helped more than 2,400 families avoid homelessness
- Given budgeting support to over 14,900 people
- Supported over 4,700 people on Universal Credit to improve their digital skills
- Seen a 15% reduction in the number of people applying as homeless
- Cut the cost of giving people emergency accommodation by £2m
- Increased the homeless prevention rate from 25% to 58%
- Reduced the numbers in emergency accommodation from 824 to 667
Community Connect/Food Stop is a partnership between the Council, the Family Centre, FareShare and over thirty voluntary, community, public and private sector organisations. It provides a single access point and helps residents achieve financial stability. Residents who sign up get around £20 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and other foods for £3.50 per week. The scheme is innovative because it provides a “hand up’ not a ‘hand out’ Members have access to tailored support such as a community job club, homelessness prevention, debt management and personal budgeting support. By providing a clear pathway to financial stability, improved housing options and employment it makes a powerful, immediate impact on the lives of local families.