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Innovative solutions to support the homeless

3rd December 213 mins
By Toucan

Innovative solutions to support the homeless

There are many fantastic charities doing great work to support the homeless within the UK. From raising funds to providing food, offering advice to supplying clothing, the lives of thousands of people living on the street are made that little bit more comfortable thanks to the tireless work of homeless organisations.

Sometimes though, it takes more. It takes more to give homeless people the care and basic necessities that we all take for granted, and it takes more to generate innovative ideas that catch the eye and highlight the issue of homelessness. Driven by charities and social enterprises wanting to do more to support individuals without a roof over their head, here are just some of the many innovative ideas that have caught our attention:

Buses fitted out for the homeless

For most of us, waiting for a bus can be an inconvenience, but thanks to Change Please, waiting for the bus might be a life-changing experience for the homeless. Two London buses have been fitted out to help the city’s homeless people during the harsh winter months. Offering free GP consultations, haircuts, dental care, digital and financial literacy training, and help to open a bank account where appropriate, the Driving For Change campaign could help thousands of individuals, with the aim to roll it out nationally over time. 

Rehomed on the high seas

Turn to Starboard, a sailing charity based in Falmouth, Cornwall was set up to help veterans through the power of sailing. The charity has recently received a donation from the Freemasons of Cornwall so it can provide homeless veterans with temporary accommodation on board one of its boats. Also offering skippered sailing trips to Service families affected by military operations, the boat can house a maximum of three veterans aboard the boat at one time. 

A fan of the van

With limited understanding of the support and resources available to them, it is often down to charities to go to homeless individuals rather than relying on them to come to the charities. In that respect, certain charities and organisations have created mobile services that can come directly to those living on the streets. Bournemouth-based charity Hope for Food set up the UK’s first mobile shower unit three years ago. ‘The Shower Machine’ contains a gas-powered shower that has enough energy for eight three-minute showers. The charity also has a ‘Clean Machine’ van that was the UK’s first converted van kitted out with a washing machine and a dryer to allow homeless individuals to wash their clothes and feel fresh once again.

Change is brewing! 

Created by the same force behind the Driving For Change London bus initiative, Change Please is providing homeless people with work in the coffee industry. Having set up a number of mobile coffee trucks, homeless people are given the living wage to run and work at them. But more than just providing work, Change Please also underwrites the tenancies of its workers so that they are able to secure accommodation in a rental market that is impossible to enter without a deposit.

Pop-Up Accommodation

Thanks to the combined efforts of The Salvation Army, Citizens UK and housing developer Hill Group, a scheme has been devised to provide sustainable and cost-effective housing for London’s homeless population. The plan is to build up to 200 ‘pod’ homes fully furnished with kitchen and bathroom facilities on small pockets of land across London over the next five years. The idea follows the success of a similar project that saw 60 pod homes built in Ilford, East London.

These are just a few examples of the wonderful schemes and campaigns created to support and help the homeless within the UK. However, there is still much to be done, and plenty of inspiration from other countries around the world that have also developed innovative solutions to solve homeless issues within their own countries. From a sleeping bag coat in Detroit to reversible tent in southeast Asia, and from a contactless payment jacket in the Amsterdam to housing first in Finland, there is inspiration to be drawn from all corners of the globe.   

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