Beam is the world’s first crowdfunding platform for homeless people. Through its website, homeless people can raise funds for job training, work tools, rental deposits and other financial barriers standing – we meet Yasmina Koné, Head of Beam Recruit.
I head up Beam Recruit, Beam’s diversity recruitment offering for forward-thinking employers. My background is in designing innovative programmes to attract, recruit and support diverse talent and I’m passionate about the role that technology can play in opening up opportunities for underrepresented groups. Beam brings those two things together.
We’re the world’s first crowdfunding platform for homeless people. Our website allows homeless people to raise funds for training, tools and deposits, to help overcome the financial barriers standing in their way. We then support each person into a new job or home, so they can leave homelessness for good.
In terms of how it works, homeless people are referred to Beam by our network of government and charity partners. Each beneficiary is given a dedicated Beam caseworker, who supports them on their journey into a new job or home. We then help them prepare an online fundraising campaign to fund the costs for them to progress into work.
Members of the public can donate and leave messages of support to provide an extra confidence boost. 100% of everything donated goes to the fundraiser, removing the exact financial barriers listed on each person’s campaign page. Since launching in 2017, 100% of campaigns have reached their fundraising target – within an average of 17 days.
After their campaign has launched and / or training has been completed, we match each individual with our employer partners, in sectors ranging from healthcare to hospitality. We also support our beneficiaries into housing too, matching them with ethical landlords and getting them set up in their new home. To date, more than 550 homeless people have started work or moved into a new home with Beam’s support.
Since launching in 2017, we have supported more than 650 homeless people into stable jobs and homes. What’s more, 83% of people who use Beam sustain work for at least three months, pointing to the long-term effect of Beam’s approach. Each time we support someone into work, we seeing the positive impact this has on their mental health, wellbeing and sense of security. Many of our beneficiaries have children too, so it’s wonderful to see the positive knock-on effect it has on their families too.
We’re also creating a powerful online support network for our beneficiaries, which gives them the confidence to reach their goals. The average Beam beneficiary receives 115 messages of support from members of the public. During a recent survey, 72% of people interviewed at the end of their Beam journey said that the social support from members of the public contributed to their outcome. One of our beneficiaries told us: “The thing that affected me most is the messages – people saying ‘don’t give up’. I read them all, one by one, and it made me confident to go to my goals and not give up… Your messages were worth more to me than any amount of money.”
One of my favourite stories is Julieta’s. She’s a single mum of five and, when she came to Beam, was living in a cramped two-bedroom flat. She previously had a job as a cleaner, but the pandemic made it difficult to find clients and she had to home-school her children during lockdown. So Beam helped her raise £7,106 to pay for a rental deposit, care training, a laptop and other essentials. We then supported her into a five-bedroom house and helped her find a job as a carer with one of our employer partners.
Julieta told us: “Beam and my supporters have given me so much motivation and I’m starting to see my future in a completely different way. All I could think about in the past was working more hours to earn more money to give my kids a good life. But it’s incredible how you have all turned my life around with your generosity.”
"Employers work with Beam to diversify their talent pool, and reach candidates they may have otherwise missed. Given the current recruitment crisis, it’s more important than ever to have the broadest talent pool possible and it’s great that we can help employers fill some of their key skills shortages."
How Beam works with companies
Beam works with local authorities and charities, who refer people to Beam’s service. These are predominantly people living in homeless hostels, women’s refuges, or other forms of temporary accommodation. Last year, we also launched Beam outside of London and our goal is to launch Beam in many more cities this year.
We work with specially selected values-driven employers in sectors including health and social care, construction, security, logistics, retail and hospitality. Over the past 12-to-18 months, we’ve built partnerships with multinationals like Bupa and Royal Mail; hospitality companies like Tossed and Wahaca; and incredible scale-ups like Olio and Zapp.
Employers work with Beam to diversify their talent pool, and reach candidates they may have otherwise missed. Given the current recruitment crisis, it’s more important than ever to have the broadest talent pool possible and it’s great that we can help employers fill some of their key skills shortages.
We predominantly work with employers who have lots of entry level roles, as many of our beneficiaries have been out of work for an average of five and a half years. It’s also important that the organisations we work with are passionate about driving social change through their hiring methods.
Our mission is to create equality of opportunity at scale, starting with the huge problem of homelessness in the UK. As we grow, our goal is to expand our work with other disadvantaged groups such as prison leavers and refugees. We also plan to grow geographically, launching Beam in many more cities across the UK and worldwide where the need is greatest. We want Beam to become one of the most positively impactful companies in the world.
Businesses that have collaborated with Beam
Mustard was set up by two amazing sisters called Jess and Becca. The brand is known for its beautiful retro lockers and home accessories. But as well as selling products for the home, they also wanted to do good. Specifically, supporting people who don’t have a place to call home. That’s why, for every locker purchased through its website, Mustard sends its customers a £5 Beam gift card to support a homeless person on the path to a brighter future.
The recipient can allocate the gift to anyone who is currently crowdfunding on Beam’s website and follow their progress. To-date, Mustard has raised over £80,000 for Beam, supporting more than 700 homeless people on their journey out of homelessness.
See Mustard’s impact page on Beam’s website here: beam.org/mustard
Bupa is working with Beam to offer employment to people experiencing homelessness. Since partnering with Beam in summer 2020, Bupa has hired 15 candidates across its network of care homes and is exploring options to welcome more.
One person who has been supported through the partnership is 24-year-old single mum Malaina. Beam fundraised £656 for Malaina to help her get a new laptop, attend training and cover the cost of travel. She started a role at Bupa Care Homes in March 2021. The job has helped her provide for her two-year-old son, whilst also having a positive impact on residents at the home.
Davina Barton, Head of Resourcing for Bupa Care Services, explains: “Working with Beam has been a win-win situation. We can help people back on the career ladder, while also finding talented individuals to work in our care homes.”
A combination of Brexit and Covid-19 have made it hard for companies like Arriva to attract enough talent across its rail and bus network. Arriva started working with Beam earlier this year to diversify its talent pool.
Since the partnership started, Arriva has successfully hired three Beam beneficiaries into operational roles. Arriva is also working with Beam to find station hosts (people by the train barriers), cleaners, bus drivers, trainee train drivers, and more operations roles.
Sadly, there’s a real visible presence of homeless people in train and bus stations – so partnering with Beam to support homeless people into work felt like a good fit for Arriva.
Working with recruiters
Top recruiters and headhunters including La Fosse, The Up Group and Otta are supporting homeless people into work through partnering with Beam.
Traditionally, recruiters send successful candidates a bottle of wine. Now, many of them are opting to congratulate candidates in a more meaningful way – by making a charitable donation on their behalf to help a homeless person get a job. With Beam, candidates can choose who the donation goes to and receive updates on that person’s progress.
Over a dozen companies have already signed up to the initiative, including La Fosse, The Up Group, Otta, Leathwaite, Founders Keepers, JBM and 3Search.
James Parker, CEO at La Fosse Associates, said: “We work every day to find brilliant roles for top candidates. But La Fosse has always been about caring more. Working with Beam, each time we successfully place one of our candidates into a permanent role, we help someone with far more challenges to overcome to get into work too.”