Beam - crowdfunding new career opportunities for homeless men and women
At Beam, they crowdfund new career opportunities for homeless men and women. They provide them with a support network, from support specialists to the kind strangers who fund their campaigns. They use technology to find scalable solutions to the toughest social problems - starting with homelessness.
Alex Stephany, the founder of Beam, was inspired to build this crowdfunding platform after getting to know a homeless man at his local Tube station. The man had spent decades out of work. Alex would buy him cups of coffee and pairs of socks, but could see his condition going from very bad to even worse.
When the man had a heart attack, Alex asked himself: “What could we do to make a real difference to that man’s life?” The answer lay in giving him the skills to support himself. Alex knew that’d cost much more than a coffee. But what if everyone chipped in?
Alex says, "In my last company, I'd raised the largest ever crowd funding round for a tech start-up. Maybe we could crowdfund employment training for homeless people. There was just one problem - I knew nothing about homelessness so I went into learning mode. So I met as many homeless people as I could and people working for homeless charities from caseworkers to chief execs. And I said, 'Could we crowd fund employment training for homeless people? If this is a terrible idea, please just tell me so.'"
Fast forward to May 2017 and Alex is in a homeless hostel in South London, sat opposite an employee of a charity and Tony, a person experiencing homelessness. Tony wants to become an electrician but he's hit a wall - he can't afford the training. If the meeting goes to plan Alex is going to be responsible for someone pretty vulnerable, someone who's been let down countless times. Alex talks about Beam, "I'm from a new website called Beam and we raise funding for people experiencing homelessness so they can do employment training. You, Tony. could be the first person ever on our website." Tony is silent except for expressing that he doesn't understand why anyone would help him.
Three weeks later, Alex and Tony visited some electrical training providers in London and identified a tutor. Then funding needed to be raised. Alex builds an online profile for Tony and tells his story. It's picked up by Time Out, BBC, Sky. Slowly, they raise Tony's funding of £4378 from 135 supporters. He has now completed his training and for the first time in 21 years, Tony's in stable employment as an electrician.
See also Nick's story (3 mins):
Read about more people needing funding here. Could you help them take up training?
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Geoff Knott, 07/09/2021