The digital platform using crowdfunding to help homeless people into new careers

A new tech startup allows people to fund employment training and careers advice to help homeless people in the UK

The UK’s homelessness crisis is getting worse. Figures released this week by housing charity Shelter reveal a 13 per cent rise in the number of homeless people in Britain the last 12 months, with an estimated 300,000 rough sleepers and 77,000 households now living in temporary accommodation.

Digital platform Beam, launched this week by entrepreneur Alex Stephany, aims to help reverse this trend by providing a long-term solution.

Beam crowdfunds to help homeless people rebuild their lives by getting them back into work. All the money raised goes towards career training and support into stable employment for homeless people.

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“I believe people want to help but feel powerless,” Stephany told Positive News. “Crowdfunding technology makes it safe and easy to help someone out of homelessness for the long-term.”

Via funding pages on the Beam website, donors can either support a specific individual or choose to have a donation split equally between every member with a live campaign . Members currently includes Joe, who wants to work in the construction industry, Leo, whose ambition is to become a teaching assistant for children with special needs, and Marilyn, who is hoping to get a licence to drive London taxis. Each individual’s funding page details exactly how the money will be spent.

Beam member, Joe (R), who is now training to be a crane rigger with his Beam manager Seb Barker (L)

Homeless people are nominated to take part in the scheme by one of Beam’s 10 partner organisations – all registered homelessness charities. Beam then helps people choose a training path that suits them, and sets up a funding campaign.

The platform launches after completing a testing stage with five homeless people.

The first homeless person to benefit from the programme was Tony from south-east London. Within a month, his campaign to train as an electrician was funded after £4,378 was donated by 136 supporters.

I don’t want to be a suck on resources, I want to be a resource

“I’m just so eager to stand on my own two feet and be a part of the community,” said Tony. “At the end of the day, that means I don’t want to be a suck on resources, I want to be a resource.

“When I first heard about Beam I thought, ‘why would anyone want to help me out?’ I couldn’t believe it when the money started coming in. Then, when I read the messages from my supporters, I just didn’t have words.”

After they have found employment, Beam members can choose to repay their funding by donating to future members’ campaigns via small monthly standing orders. So far, every Beam member has opted to re-donate the full value of their campaign to help others.