Six initiatives helping those worst off in society, from thermal shelters for homeless people to an organisation offering free sanitary products to refugees
This piece is part of our Hope 100 series, telling the stories of the people and organisations creating hope for 2020 and beyond
#45 Community Fridge Network
While households in the UK throw out an estimated 7.1m tonnes of food annually, many families go hungry. Tackling these twin problems is the Community Fridge Network, which has 80 community fridges across the country. Through them, people can donate surplus food to those who don’t have enough. “As well as reducing food waste, fridges encourage a spirit of sharing and can help strengthen community bonds,” says a spokesperson from Hubbub, the organisation that helps to run them.
#46 Finland’s Housing First programme
Finland is the only country in the EU where the rate of homelessness is falling. That’s thanks to its Housing First programme, which set out in 2008 to make sure everyone in the country had a home.
The theory behind the policy is that people need a place to live before they can deal with any other problems in their life, such as addiction or mental health issues. Since launch, some 3,500 people have been giving a permanent residence and the number of long-term homeless people has fallen 35 per cent in that time.
#47 Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration
Under an experimental project in the town of Stockton, California, 100 low-income families are receiving $500 (£375) per month to spend as they wish. The 18-month pilot, run by Stockton’s mayor, is built on the idea that people living in poverty know best what they do or don’t need. Critics of such cash-transfer schemes claim that recipients could be motivated to not work, however the pilot has showed that families use the money to buy extra food, move house or in order to spend more time at home with their children.
#48 Bloody Good Period
Gabby Edlin was volunteering at a drop-in centre for refugees when she discovered that, unlike clothes and food, sanitary products were not considered essential items. A whip-round for donations of tampons and pads has become, three years on, Bloody Good Period, which campaigns to end period poverty. It now supports around 2,000 refugees in the UK, and is part of the government Equalities Office’s Period Poverty Task Force, launched in 2019.
The recently launched Billy Chip was the brainchild of Billy Abernethy-Hope, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Thailand. In his memory, his family have brought to life his project, which offers an alternative way to support street sleepers. People can purchase from participating restaurants or cafes a Billy Chip, which can be redeemed for a hot drink. The idea is to bring kindness, compassion and a cuppa to the homeless.
A piece of simple but smart engineering, the Iglou is the work of French designer Geoffroy de Reynal. The thermal shelter retains the body heat of a person inside, providing homeless people with a warm place to sleep. According to the Iglou team, the inside temperature will hit around 15C when it is freezing outside. So far, Iglous have been installed around Paris and Bordeaux.
Image: Finland has the lowest rate of homelessness of any EU country, credit: Tapio Haaja