Homeless families are set to benefit from a groundbreaking service that gives them access to employment support and homes so they can move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes.
Manchester City Council has partnered with Beam, a social enterprise that fundraises on behalf of homeless people and connects them with a supportive online community.
Through Beam’s platform, individuals can raise money for items that can be a financial obstacle to moving into a home. This can include money to fund equipment or training to help people secure stable and financially viable employment, as well as money for a rental deposit, moving van and other homeware essentials.
Donations come from people in the local community, who also send encouraging messages of support. Donations are shared equally between participants, so that everyone reaches their fundraising target within an average of 17 days. More than 1,300 homeless people have fundraised £3.8m through Beam to achieve their goals since 2017.
As well as providing funding, Beam has a team of caseworkers who provide 1-1 help with employment support as well as searching for properties online, communicating with landlords, and booking house viewings. Beam also works with a network of vetted landlords to find a home before providing further support for at least six months after moving.
The council’s pilot partnership with Beam will initially support 25 families living in temporary accommodation over a 12-month period, and move them into their own private rental homes.
The first Manchester resident to launch a Beam campaign is 40-year-old single mother Grace, who is living in temporary accommodation and has been unemployed for nearly three years. Grace previously worked as an NHS admin assistant for two years. However, following the birth of her third child in 2020, Grace struggled to get back into work due to the cost of childcare.
Now, Grace is crowdfunding £2,343 on Beam to help her get back into work as an admin assistant. The funds will go towards childcare, a laptop, transport and a smartphone. Once Grace is in work, her goal is to move out of temporary accommodation and start renting a place of her own. She plans to launch a second fundraising campaign on Beam’s website to cover the cost of a rental deposit, first month's rent and moving costs.
"We've been living in a tiny place that's just temporary accommodation, plus it's right on a main road and with my kids growing every day it makes me very scared that they might just run out into traffic. My goal right now is to get back into work and use my previous experience as an admin assistant to find a very good job to help us find a rented home with a safe garden for all of them to play in."
Manchester resident, Karen Sofia, is also using Beam to move out of temporary accommodation and into her own flat. The 23-year-old mother, who is currently pregnant with her second child, found herself homeless following a family relationship breakdown. After living in a hotel for six weeks, she moved into temporary accommodation, where she’s been living with her two-year-old daughter for the past 12 months.
Karen Sofia is currently raising £1,295 on Beam to fund her first month’s rent and a moving van.
“With the support I have received in the last few months I went from feeling hopeless to now feeling absolutely over the moon. I didn’t know there were so many lovely people out there. It brings me comfort knowing that, despite the difficult times I have recently experienced, I have brought my little girl into a world that’s filled with kindness.”
Councillor Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council said:
"No-one chooses homelessness voluntarily and when it happens, it can be devastating, which is why we are looking at a range of solutions to help people secure affordable and decent homes in Manchester.
“Our new partnership with Beam is an innovative approach to improve people's life chances, supporting them, where possible, into sustainable jobs allowing them to move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes. This is coupled with individual, tailored support which is critical to the success of sustaining an affordable home and which is available to everyone on this pilot scheme."
Seb Barker, co-founder and chief operating officer of Beam, said:
“Beam is using technology to empower homeless families in Manchester by giving them an online support network and all the tools they need to accelerate their journey into stable jobs and housing. We’re excited to launch Beam in Manchester and trial innovative approaches to tackling homelessness across Greater Manchester in the coming months.”
Residents can be referred to the scheme by the council’s housing teams as well as other local services, and each person is assigned a caseworker from Beam, who supports them on their journey into stable housing.