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Very Brief Summary:
Homelessness in the UK is becoming more and more common. A significant lack of affordable housing coupled with government cuts has meant that the homeless ratio in the UK is now one of the worst in Europe. Hotels That Help will be the first travel booking website that uses profits to combat homelessness in the UK.
Rough sleepers are 16 times more likely to have been victims of violence. Over a third of rough sleepers have been deliberately assaulted or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless, and on average, homeless people die at just 47 years old.
Finland have eradicated homelessness completely. Countries like Portugal (with just 3,000 homeless people on any given night) can boast a ratio of 0.03%. In the UK roughly 1 in 200 people are homeless. In some areas of England, 1 in 30 people are homeless. In Japan the ratio is just 1 in every 25,000 people.
As you may already know, the number of people forced to live on the streets in the UK rose again for the 7th consecutive year. In the North West of England rough sleeping has almost doubled in the last two years and quadrupled since 2010 (source: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government). Homeless charities noted that these figures do not even represent the number of young and other vulnerable people who are sofa-surfing, sleeping on public transport or staying with strangers just to find a bed for the night.
One positive step that the government are taking is to invest in an evidence-based approach known as ‘Housing First’. In brief, Housing First means allowing somebody without a home to find a home, unconditionally. And then providing the appropriate support a person may need. Housing First projects have been incredibly successful abroad, in countries such as the US, Canada, and France, and Finland have now completely eradicated homelessness by incorporating a Housing First approach (Please click here for more information on Housing First). However, the funding issue remains. Housing First is not cheap in the UK, and despite the research-backed evidence, there is still a significant lack of funding.
To make up for the lack of funding in this area, I am establishing a Community Interest Company (Social Enterprise), that raises funds to help homeless people. Hotels That Help will run a travel booking website. Any income we make will be predominantly directed to Housing First projects. Some will also go towards providing emergency, temporary shelter and other support services for the homeless.
The Technical Part:
I am creating a hotel booking website - powered by some of the biggest names in the accommodation and travel industries. These well known travel booking companies often don't actually own the products or services they are offering. For example, Booking.com do not own 2 million hotels, but they are able to offer 2 million+ hotels/properties on their site. They connect customers with hotels around the world and receive a commission when a booking is placed. When a customer comes to HotelsThatHelp.co.uk, and wants to book a hotel, for example, they will be taken to our page on Booking.com's website. Customers get the same selection, deals and prices. The only difference is that, instead of all of the commission going to Booking.com, commission will be used to combat homelessness - at no added cost to the customer.
Initially, income generated will be donated to existing charities and projects in the field, who are already working (very hard!) to end the suffering of those forced to the streets. We have partnered with a brilliant homeless charity with over 50 years experience, and the largest provider of Housing First services in the UK. I hope to work closely with them to ensure that funds will be used in the most efficient and effective way. The end goal is to raise enough profit through the business that would allow us to begin our own Housing First projects.
Despite the lack of funding, homelessness is still a crucial issue that is getting more and more serious each year. The good thing is, it is an issue which we can solve and end forever. It is not idealistic to believe that, in time, we can completely eradicate homelessness. All it takes is a few intelligent solutions, a number of kind-hearted and community-spirited people and a bit (a big bit..) of funding!
Thank you for taking the time to read about this project.
If you would like more information on homelessness, on the website (launching 1st December) or would like to work with and/or support Hotels That Help please email: firstname.lastname@example.org