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Very Brief Summary:
Homelessness in the UK is becoming more and more common. Government funding for evidence-backed approaches to eradicating homelessness is not enough. I am establishing a Social Enterprise in partnership with booking.com, that raises money to fund evidence-backed projects that can end homelessness for good.
As you may already know, the number of people forced to live on the streets in the UK has risen 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). Homelessness charities across the country have responded to the figures, up 169% since 2010, calling it a catastrophe and a scandal. Charities also note 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. Cuts to funding are mainly to blame, and even though the government have pledged to take steps to eradicate homelessness, local councils and charities report that funding allocated is nowhere near sufficient, and will not be enough to fund projects. London Councils have said that the insignificant funding “risks leaving thousands of vulnerable people without support”. Sutton Council notes that their allocated funding until 2020 “falls significantly below the levels required”.
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, and despite the research-backed evidence, the government are still not prepared to invest enough into eradicating homelessness.
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. I would like funding to be predominantly for Housing First projects - which are shown to be the most effective way to help people off the streets for good - however, funds will also go towards providing emergency, temporary shelter and other support services for the homeless.
I am creating a hotel booking website - powered by booking.com ams other industry-leading providers - where people also have the opportunity to purchase extras, such as airport parking, car rental, & activities. Income comes from commission on bookings.
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. I am currently establishing a partnership with St Mungo's - my favourite homelessness charity and the largest provider of Housing First services. 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.
Unfortunately, as it stands, the only funding I have available to take this project off is from my (student) back pocket, which is not very much! The Community Interest Company will be established as a legal entity in about 1-2 weeks. However, the real costly parts will include accountant/other legal fees, maintaining the website (hosting, SSL certificates, bug fixes etc) and marketing the website. A reserve bank balance is also required to avoid cash flow problems, whilst funding homelessness projects but still waiting for commission to come in.
Money I raise through here will go to covering such costs. If any funds remain, it will be used, in line with the mission, to fund Housing First projects and to provide the homeless with other support services they need.
Despite the government’s 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 of funding! We can, and we will eradicate homelessness in the UK for good.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read about my project.
If you would like more information on homelessness, on the website idea or would like to see a full business plan, please feel free to drop me an email: email@example.com