Hammersmith & Fulham Council has joined forces with a London charity to give homeless people a fresh start in life by paying for employment training. It means a Christmas to look forward to for three local residents we’ve helped get back on their feet.
Charity Beam sets up crowdfunding websites so anyone can assist homeless people – and those at risk of homelessness – to gain jobs and stand tall once again.
The charity’s work is more urgent during winter, with more needing assistance as the pandemic continues to affect those on the margins.
Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council, said she was proud of the way the local authority and charity were working together to tackle an issue that always comes into sharper focus around Christmas.
“Beam helps people help themselves by giving them crucial support at the time they most need it, enabling them to do the training courses necessary to find work, and helping them overcome all the barriers that exist in London to finding somewhere to live,” she said.
“There are many causes which deserve our help this Christmas, but Beam’s work is especially worthwhile as it can make such a long-term difference.”
Meet Cherrie. She had been working as a live-in carer from early in 2019 when she was suddenly replaced, without notice, by someone more experienced.
As her employer also provided her accommodation, she became homeless. She resorted to squatting in a building with six other people, without any heating or electricity.
Assisted by the Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank (where she also volunteers), she was referred to Beam, and guided by her housing officer who also asked Beam to support Cherrie’s search for a new home.
Through crowdfunding, she is raising £3,847 to cover her rental deposit, her first month’s rent and updating her care training to help her get work again.
“It's been a few months since I was in a stable living situation, so I'm excited to be getting my own space soon,” she said. “I'll be able to clear my head and focus on getting into work, as well as getting back to the things in life that make me happy.”
“We’ve achieved really positive partnership work with H&F’s Housing Team,” said Chloe Moore of the Beam charity.
Meet George. After some difficult life events in 2019, he was left jobless, and homeless.
His housing officer at H&F helped him find temporary accommodation with St Mungo’s, then referred him to Beam to try to secure a long-term future.
With Beam’s support, he raised £4,935 from 288 kind-hearted members of the public. That funded his housing deposit and his first month’s rent.
Two weeks ago, he was able to move into his own home. The money raised will also fund his forklift truck training, so he can get back into work and become financially independent.
“It’s the first time in 10 years I have a space to call my own,” said George.
“I’m so relieved to take charge of my life again; I can do my own shopping and my neighbours are lovely. It feels nice thinking I’m a neighbour to someone! I feel like I can motivate myself here. I can be determined to go and get a job.”
Meet Bibi. In 2019, he was paying rent in the house he was working on as a carpenter.
But when that job came to an end, he was left without income or a place to live. At first, he sofa-surfed at friends’ houses, but then had to sleep in bus shelters and parks around London. He was assisted by H&F Council shortly afterwards, and his housing officer referred him to Beam.
Earlier this year, Bibi raised £2,107 to cover his NVQ diploma in carpentry, as well as tools and accommodation while he was in training. With Beam’s support, he was able to secure a job as a construction worker during the pandemic and has been working ever since.
“Having this opportunity to receive help and support from people that I don’t even know is so motivational,” he said. “Being homeless wasn’t a life choice; several unfortunate circumstances led me there. I have been given the chance to fix everything and avoid that ever happening again with Beam.”
First to partner
Hammersmith & Fulham was the first local authority in Britain to partner with Beam, a charity which won the 2018 London Homelessness Awards for its innovative approach to this deep-seated issue.
It chimes with the borough’s target to eliminate homelessness and rough sleeping in the borough – a campaign which has so far seen the council spend £1.6million on initiatives to support those on the streets.
In the past year, despite the added pressures on resources from the pandemic, H&F has reduced the number of rough sleepers in the borough from 107 to 63 – and aims to completely end rough sleeping in the borough.
Through Beam, residents and businesses in the borough can pledge support for training and work placements, personalised to each homeless person’s strengths and interests.
Then Beam’s caseworkers support each homeless person into a skilled job.
The crowdfunding model is a way to help specific individuals overcome the financial barriers to finding work, including support with training, transport, tools and even childcare.
When people donate, they often write confidence-boosting messages of support, and even help locate jobs or work experience opportunities.
For more details or to donate, visit the Beam website.
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