13 November marks World Kindness Day. At Crowdfunder UK we are championing the work of The Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund, a partnership with the Sovereign Housing Association to make a difference in the lives of their residents, and the communities in which they live.
Sovereign are driven by a social purpose, one that recognises the importance of having a home and the difficulties faced by so many to find one. With over 60,000 affordable homes to their name, they are creating positive and quality spaces for communities to flourish.
According to the well known magazine The Big Issue in 2019, there are currently 320,000 homeless people in the UK. That’s one person in every 201 Brits.
Those experiencing homelessness were hit hardest with the ‘stay at home’ message given for the first UK lockdown due to coronavirus. According to Crisis, homeless people are ‘three times more likely to experience a chronic health condition, unable to self-isolate or follow sanitation guidance’.
Dame Louise Casey, the government’s chief advisor on Homelessness, was swiftly redirected in February to lead the government’s task force on homelessness in response to coronavirus. On her watch, under what was dubbed the ‘everyone in’ operation, councils were given 48 hours to get rough sleepers off the street and into either empty hotel rooms or emergency accommodation. 90% of those offered accommodation accepted it.
However, as we now find ourselves in England’s second national lockdown, coupled with the end of the eviction ban, plummeting job losses and reductions to household income, the impact of coronavirus on the homeless is a serious concern.
Bristol based Cafe Kino, a non-for-profit business operating out of Stokes Croft, is a safe and open space for everyone. They offer basic services for the homeless including a ‘suspended coffee’ system, inspired by café sospeso in Naples which allows a customer to purchase something for someone in need while purchasing something for themselves.
Cafe Kino were forced to shut during lockdown and ran a crowdfunding campaign, supported by the Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund, to ensure their reopening on the other side. They received 302 pledges from the Bristol community who simply donated or purchased a ‘suspended coffee or meal’ to be distributed to someone in need and redeemed by themselves later.
Emmaus is a charity shop selling pre-loved furniture and other household goods, where proceeds go towards caring for formerly homeless people they both house and work with.
“We believe that people who are homeless and socially excluded have something to offer. We encourage people to use their skills by working in our enterprises to change themselves – and change the world”.
Their ‘companion scheme’ is an Emmaus community of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness who are given a residency, on the agreement that they work 37.5 hours a week in one of the three Emmaus shops. This residency includes a room and access to communal areas for eating and socialising. There are then opportunities to work in the shop, sort items in the warehouse, make deliveries or work at the community home itself.
Bristol Refugee Rights – Support for Refugees
According to the UN Refugee Agency at the end of 2018 there were 126,720 refugees, 45,244 pending asylum cases and 125 stateless persons in the UK. Refugees are fleeing from their homes because of war, violence and persecution.
Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR) was set up in 2006 with the aim of ‘upholding and championing the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees’. Their Welcome Centre in St Paul’s, ‘regularly welcomes 100 asylum seekers and refugees each day, from up to 60 different countries’. During coronavirus, they cannot stay open and instead offer their support over the phone, with their staff and volunteers making over 100 calls to families each day.
These families need to be able to access a phone or computer. In May BRR raised over £18,000 on Crowdfunder UK to provide ‘vital services and tech aid for asylum seekers and refugees facing destitution, homelessness and isolation during Covid-19’. The BRR received support from 222 people including a £5,000 pledge from the Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund. To help shape the public’s understanding of what their donation would mean, they offered a succinct breakdown. With £200 they could provide 20 more data packages, with £2,000 they can buy digital tools and data for 40 families and with £2,700 they can provide extensive support with telephone interpreting to 27 more families.
On World Kindness Day, and every other day of the year, we’re proud to be a platform where projects like these can raise funds and awareness for vital causes.
The Sovereign Thriving Community Fund has so far backed over 20 different projects, you can see them here and find out more about the +Extra funding available.
If you’ve got a community project that’s based within 3 miles of a Sovereign Housing development, you may be eligible for up to £10,000 in +Extra Funding.
Start a crowdfunding campaign today, to help those in poverty or on the edge find the support they need.