Aid Resources Scarce for Homeless
In the United Kingdom it is estimated there are more than 400,000 homeless individuals. For the few who do manage to leave the streets, there islittle support available to help them maintain permanent housing, retain employment and continue on the path to financial stability. Social isolation, struggles with work etiquette and a lack of personal finance skills result in many of these people returning to homelessness. To tackle these issues, the University of Sheffield SIFE team developed a project that works with individuals at every stage of homelessness to teach them how to obtain a sustained income and become self-sufficient.
The team started with 12 homeless individuals to launch this multi-staged project intended to address some of the biggest factors contributing to ongoing homelessness. The first phase uses weekly activities such as gardening to build the confidence and social skills of the participants. This is designed to improve communication and teamwork, as well as foster a sense of community and provide the motivation to get into temporary accommodations. The second stage of the project concentrates on more advanced skills such as budgeting and finance, which is further enhanced and applied through a strawberry jam business. This fully functional business serves as a real-life learning lab to teach time management, financial literacy and work readiness. In fact, the training enabled these first participants to make nearly 400 pounds in three months from their jam-making venture. These profits provide funding to aid participants as they start their new life.
Because the jam business is only the starting point to help these individuals gain the skills to become self-sufficient, additional stages of the project focus on interview training so participants can leverage their past as well as their new experiences and skills when applying for a job. Resume, job application and interview sessions allow them to leave this stage with a completed resume and the knowledge how to perform at an interview. Having spent months or years living rough on the streets, these individuals often find it difficult to fit in to a work environment. Practical workshops and role play sessions help them develop their work etiquette. The final stage works to support them in their new life of financial independence and employment. An important part of this is the network where they can share their experiences, challenges and offer each other vital support.
A Fresh Start
Since it began, eight of the 12 individuals have completed all four stages of the project and have secured jobs. Also as a result of this effort, attendance to housing and job interviews has increased 90%. All of the Home Made project participants are now better equipped with skills to help them avoid returning to homelessness and life on the streets.