Helping Homeless People Build a Better Life
by Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive Officer, Crisis
As chief executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, I’m lucky enough to sit directly above Café from Crisis. For nearly 12 years, this Café has been supporting people affected by homelessness and ex-offenders into work. As well as serving – and I can personally attest to this – delicious food and coffee, we offer a unique, tailored approach that works with people’s individual needs to build up confidence and vital workplace skills.
This café, alongside others we run in Newcastle and Oxford took on 99 trainees last year. Thirty-nine went on to a new job. But these cafes represent just a part of our wider employment work with homeless people. Through classes and courses, CV workshops, employment fairs and dedicated year-round employment teams working with our clients, I’m proud to say that last year Crisis helped 681 people into work. This year we’re on track to help even more.
This is all the more impressive when you remember that the people coming to Crisis often face a range of complex issues, including long-term unemployment, social isolation and mental or physical health problems. Many will have had deeply traumatic experiences. Some will have slept rough.
These 681 people prove that with the right support, someone who has been through this horrific experience can move back into work and onto a better life. It might seem like an impossible leap to take from the street to work, but homeless people want to work, and homeless people can work. Our research has shown that 88 per cent of homeless people said they wanted a job now or in the future.
A recent success story was one of our clients who had gone to work in a hotel. She quickly became a valued member of staff and had just been awarded ‘Employee of the Month’. She is now financially secure, independent and incredibly proud of her achievement. And the hotel has gained a motivated, reliable person to add to their team.
And across the UK stories like this are being repeated. Employers and homeless people are reaping the benefits and more people are, through their own work, able to leave homelessness behind once and for all.
Sitting in the Café from Crisis it does make sense. You meet trainees at the till who might be a bit nervous or hesitant taking an order at first, but over a few weeks you see them get into the swing of things. Of course the hope is that they will then disappear off to a new job, and a better life.
Crisis is the UK national charity for single homeless people. The charity offers year-round education, employment, housing and well-being services from centres in London, Newcastle, Oxford, Edinburgh and Merseyside, called Crisis Skylight Centres