A new crowdfunding platform is helping homeless people train up and get into work.
Founded by Alex Stephany, also CEO of JustPark, Beam crowdfunds employment training. It launched with a pilot in September and is backed of The Mayor of London and Nesta, with James Bowen, author of A Street Cat Named Bob as ambassador. Beam partners with more than 10 homelessness charities including St Mungo’s, The House of St Barnabas and Thames Reach. The charities refer people to Beam who are either homeless or at risk of becoming so and who have shown the potential to succeed in training and work.
New Beam members then meet with a Member Manager to work out employment training that matches their talents and experience before Beam helps them prepare an online fundraising campaign to raise the money needed for their training. During and after the campaign, the Member Manager remains the main point of contact for the member, supporting them through their training and into stable, paid employment. Beam also funds childcare costs in campaigns for single parents. Beam members can also choose to repay their funding by donating to future members’ campaigns once they are back in work via small monthly standing orders. So far, every Beam member has opted to re-donate the full value of their campaign.
How the platform works: Anyone can donate to any live campaign, or choose to make a monthly donation that is shared equally between all live campaigns. So far the smallest donation has been £1, and the largest: £1,000. All donations are securely processed and encrypted by Stripe, and once fully funded, the money goes straight to training providers and other suppliers rather than to the members themselves.
Beam’s first member was Tony, a homeless man living in a hostel in South East London who wants to become an electrician. In less than a month, Tony successfully funded his campaign to qualify as an electrician, raising £4,378 from 136 supporters. Other career paths being pursued include a teaching assistant, a courier and a construction site manager. So far, Beam has helped 13 members. Tony commented:
“When I first heard about Beam I thought, ‘why would anyone want to help me out?’ I couldn’t believe it when the money started coming in. Then, when I read the messages from my supporters, I just didn’t have words. Thanks to Beam, I’m now training to become a fully-qualified electrician.”