Selling Homelessness – Time for a Celebration?Wednesday 27th May 2015
Our CEO, Steve, tells us why celebrating our success – and encouraging the people we work with to do the same, is so important in our work to beat homelessness:
On Facebook last week someone posted this old photo of a delivery man standing outside No. 11 Downing Street with a pallet load of champagne with the tag ‘Austerity?’ – I understand the question and the intention of the post but frankly, even if the photo had been current or real, if you’ve just had the biggest success of your life you deserve to celebrate – right?
If life is all about principles then let’s not forget the principles of celebration and fun. These are words not often associated with homelessness. The people that we work with don’t aspire to be poor and to suffer like they have – people aspire for a better life, for the good things that life gives us.
One of the basis from which we work is to ask ‘can you imagine a more positive future for yourself?’ – it is the power of imagination that creates hopes and the ability to achieve them. So we invited politicians and international business leaders to a drinks reception in a swanky wine bar and spent hundreds of pounds on wine. We employed the strategy of celebrity endorsement to convince them to buy what we were selling. Given what we are selling, the potential irony is not lost on me; but, had we held this event in our office with me as the main speaker would we have attracted the same calibre of guests? That’s a rhetorical question.
This strategy is one that is employed the world over by businesses to convince potential customers of their need to buy the product – it’s marketing 101.
So, if these strategies are employed to make millions of pounds profit for a particular brand, drink, chocolate or airline, then how much more should these strategies be used to provide solutions to some of our biggest social problems: hunger, poverty … homelessness?
Trinity and SHOC feed and house well over 200 local people every year who suffer homelessness; assisting people to leave the streets, leave behind life dominating problems and to beat homelessness through achieving independence. We check every year to see if what we do makes a difference. Last year, of those people we contacted, 100% were still house and 60% were employed. We measure employment because this is the silver bullet for sustainable independence – for individuals as well as organisations.
To this end, Trinity and SHOC work to a strategy of not being dependant on grants and hand-outs but rather create businesses and social enterprises to fund our work.
Our Big SleepOut is our flagship event where we invite people to raise sponsorship to sleep out for one night. We don’t see this event as a hand out or ‘charity’ – it’s an opportunity for us all to have an experience that adds to our practise of being a human being by walking a mile (or sleeping a night) in someone else’s shoes. What we learn about ourselves and others through this experience is invaluable. By committing to attend our Big SleepOut on December 4th 2015, and raising just £200 each in sponsorship, we can ensure many more people beat homelessness in Hillingdon and Slough.