London-based homelessness crowdfunding venture Beam this week marks its progress with an individual success story, as a former homeless man celebrates taking up his first job in 15 years as a result of joining the platform.
Beam, set by former Just Park chief exec Alex Stephany, claims to be the world’s first crowdfunding platform designed to help homeless people train up and get into work. It is funded by the mayor of London and Nesta.
Since launching in September, Beam has funded 14 individual campaigns, raising £43,000 for industry-recognised qualifications from electrician’s training to teaching assistant and accountancy courses.
The tech-for-good venture marks its progress this week by highlighting the story of Joe, who was homeless for over a decade, sleeping in hostels, on friends’ sofas and sometimes the streets. (Beam prefers not to give out the surnames of its members as it says it makes them less Google-able to reduce possible discrimination from future employers.)
Last August, Joe worked with a Beam member manager to set up an online campaign on the platform. That set out an exact budget for training, hard hat and travel expenses.
The public could read Joe’s story online and donate to his campaign. Supporters could also follow his progress through regular updates during training and job searching, and leave messages.
Joe raised £1,132 from 19 supporters in five days, for training as a slinger signaller to work with crane operators to ensure site safety. Beam supported Joe while he applied for work.
The training gave Joe an industry-recognised professional qualification – and he is now working in his first job since 2003, for construction labour supplier VGC Group on the Northern Line extension at Battersea in west London.
“Beam uses technology to make it safe and easy to help a homeless person for the long-term by making a smart and positive investment in their future,” explained Stephany (pictured far left). “Each member’s supporters can see exactly where their money goes – and the impact they’re having via updates from the member.”
Beam also partners with leading homelessness charities including Thames Reach, St Mungo’s, Kairos and The House of St Barnabas.
Thames Reach chief executive Jeremy Swain said: ”Beam offers a wonderful opportunity for the public to engage directly with people supported by Thames Reach in a personal way, practically helping them in their progression away from homelessness.”