Homeless Brum

Solutions Based Reporting to Tackle Homelessness In The City

Start up charity aims to match rough sleepers with job opportunities

Standing tall is a newly set up charity in Birmingham that connects individuals living rough to jobs by working with different businesses.

Speaking to Homeless Brum, the founder of the Standing Tall, Christy Acton said he was inspired by his experiences from working at a night shelter.

Christy Acton, founder of Standing Tall

“Before I started this charity, I was working at a night shelter in Digbeth for four years. During this time I saw lots of people were ready and capable of holding a full time job. During the same time, random businesses contacted us wanting people to work in full time jobs.

“After matching the required skillset with the proper individual, we saw people were making good progress,” Christy said.

The night shelter had been able to match 25 people with jobs while Standing Tall had been able to provide permanent jobs for three people with nine more vacancies being available during the coming months in the construction and hospitality sector.

Jobs in the construction sector are currently supported by M. Lambe Constructions who have offered six more vacancies.

‘All risks are on us during the first few months’

During the first three months of employment, Standing Tall pays the wages of the employee on behalf of the employer.

“This model gives a security to the businesses because all the risk is on us for the first few months and the businesses then have the choice to provide them with an employment contract. We also pay each employee a living wage of £9.50 per hour.

“For most of the people, the job is the gamechanger. They have money in their pockets which gives them more choices in life. They also get valued for the work they do which is a very important thing after living in the streets,” said Christy.

The start-up comes in a space where young people fear homelessness as unemployment figures are rising in the UK.

Statistics from the ONS show a quarterly decrease in the unemployment from January to March 2021, which is also the largest quarterly decrease since September to November 2015

“The UK employment rate was estimated at 75.2%, 1.4 percentage points lower than before the pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020) but 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous quarter,” the report said.

“We are trying to work with twenty businesses this year and get twenty people to work. We also want to expand our pool and target more jobs in different fields like manufacturing and transport,” says Christy.

“So if there is a man living in the streets with a certain interest of a job he likes, we must be capable of responding to that. We don’t want to match somebody for a job that they don’t want to do.

“It’s unlikely that most businesses will hire homeless people for jobs, but we want to challenge that and get a trend going to normalise recruiting homeless people into jobs of different sectors.”

‘We also provide accommodation’

The charity also has an accommodation service called Amici, meaning ‘friend’ in Italian.

People signing up for this program will have to go through a recruitment process with training and will be expected to host individuals sleeping rough for six months.

“Getting a good job is not enough and we need to find them a good home. When an individual joins with an Amici, we try to understand the interests of the person and make a connection to what the person likes and untap those passions,” says Christy.

There were 2,688 people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2020 according to the ministry of housing. Research done by Homeless Link revealed that there are currently 991 accommodation projects for single homeless people in England. West Midlands have 3323 bed spaces across 86 projects and 12 day centres.

Moving forward, Christy is confident the model will be a gamechanger in finding a solution for rough sleeping.

“We have complete confidence in the model because it worked well with the night shelter. We are really excited to test this model and we hope that our model can be used across ten major cities in the UK in five years.

It’s very easy to become institutionalised and think that people living in these circumstances cannot change. But for most of these people, the right job could be priceless and we have to give them that opportunity and help as many as possible to get off the streets,” said Christy.

To find out more about the charity and becoming an Amici, visit standingtall.org.uk.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *