When Ahmed arrived in Shepherds Bush as a nine-year-old from Bulgaria, he had no friends and couldn’t speak a word of English.
With his family struggling to make ends meet, they were supported into temporary housing by Hammersmith & Fulham Council where they lived until last year. However, with a bit of help Ahmed is now doing business studies at college and working as a security officer at Chelsea Football Club. The job was made possible by working with crowdfunding organisation Beam and H&F Council.
H&F was the first local authority in Britain to partner with Beam, working with the social enterprise to try to fulfil its ambitious target to end rough sleeping in the borough by next year through securing stable employment and long-term homes for those in need.
Now, 31 H&F residents have found jobs through Beam, with 4,000 generous crowdfunding supporters – contributing an impressive total of £214,000 to help them.
“My brother was helped by Beam as well,” said the 19-year-old, whose training course was paid for by kind-hearted members of the public keen to give him a leg-up in life.
Supported through the process by Beam, he applied to Chelsea FC for a job – and was thrilled to get it. “It’s been two months now, and it’s really good. I work Saturdays and Sundays, 7am-7pm. I do patrols around the Stamford Bridge stadium and the players’ changing rooms, CCTV, gate duty and so on.”
On matchdays he helps escort players to and from the changing room. “We deal with really high-profile people – not just players, but commentators and directors too. A lot of the players are really nice and say ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ to you.”
Boost in confidence
Ahmed and his family have now moved into a permanent home in White City.
He went to primary and secondary school in Hammersmith and now aims to do a third year of studying at college to complete his business training.
“Beam has been really great for me, sorting out everything to do with money and travel. The service is great – it’s friendly and gives you mental support and help with family issues, housing and clothes,” said Ahmed. “Beam has given me 100% more confidence.”
The teenager is keen on boxing and has trained at a club near the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush – though Covid restrictions have temporarily halted that.
He admires boxer Anthony Joshua, saying of the heavyweight champ: “When you get that much money and respect, it’s easy to lose yourself. It’s easy to get an ego and think you’re better than everyone, but he’s stayed humble.”
Ultimately, Ahmed’s ambition is to run his own club. “My dream is to open up my own boxing gym,” he said. “I want to help get children out of gangs… doing what Beam has done. Beam has changed my life a lot, and that’s what I want to do for others.”
Ahmed appreciates the help that anonymous crowdfunders have given him via Beam. “It’s great,” he said. “Especially in these difficult times, it’s really great.”
Beam needs a crowd
The organisation sets up crowdfunding websites to help those at risk of homelessness, to help them into employment and give them the chance to stand tall again. It also works with the council’s housing team on individual cases.
Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council, said she’s delighted with the partnership between the local authority and a social enterprise which works to help people help themselves.
“Thanks to generous local residents in H&F, people are able to do training courses and get into work,” she said. “It’s an organisation that makes an enormous difference to people at grassroots level and I thank everyone for donating.”
Although he has no particular favourite team, Ahmed loves football and watches all the TV games he can.
Of all the Chelsea players he says he gets on best with midfielder N’Golo Kante. He also gets a cheery ‘Hello’ from Chelsea’s influential director Marina Granovskaia when she arrives at Stamford Bridge.
Can you help?
Read more about our work with Beam and how we’ve helped with Cherri, George and Bibi.
If you can pledge support for training and work placements, please find out more about the individuals who are seeking assistance at Beam’s website.
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