Creating communities: helping homeless people

Alex Stephany, founder of Beam, sat at a table smiling wearing a t-shirt that says 'Beam'

In the last year, 20 homeless people in Islington have successfully found jobs and homes through the help of social enterprise Beam, in partnership with Islington Council. One of these people is Omolola, who lives in Islington with her two children. IslingtonLife finds out more about her story

In 2016, Alex Stephany became friends with a homeless man who regularly sat outside his local train station. Through chats over coffee, Alex learned that the man had been out of work for as long as he could remember – and became determined to find a way to help him. This sparked the idea for a Crowdfunder for homeless people – and Beam was born.

Beam supports homeless people and refugees into careers and homes, identifying what each person needs and fundraising the cost. Beam works with companies including Arriva, Bupa and Pret, and helps them fill job vacancies by matching suitable candidates for roles. The council’s housing team, as well as charities like Shelter and St Mungo’s, refer people to Beam for help. “Beam is using technology to empower the most disadvantaged people in our society,” says co-founder and COO Seb Barker. “We give people an online support network and all the tools they need to accelerate their journey into stable work or housing.”

Omolola is just one of the people who have been helped to get back on their feet. When Islington Council referred Omolola to Beam, she had already applied for more than 100 jobs. Omolola is currently living with relatives, but the home is overcrowded, and she’s determined to have her own home with space for her children.

Earlier this year, she was referred to Beam to help achieve this through finding a job so she can eventually rent her own place. Beam helped Omolola write her CV and prepare for interviews and set up fundraising to cover her expenses, including safeguarding training, clothes for her interview and work, and paying for some of her travel expenses to attend interviews. In the space of a few weeks, Omolola successfully found a job.

“I have been offered the job as a healthcare assistant in a care home. I love chatting to people and helping meet their needs,” says Omolola. “I’m totally lost for words at the overwhelming support and generosity I have received. I appreciate all the support you have provided me with on this journey into work.”

To find out more about Beam’s work and to donate to help a homeless person get back on their feet, visit the Beam website.

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