Could the Crisis Changing Lives programme help you get back on your feet?
If you've recently been homeless and are looking to start your business as a way of changing your life, Crisis might be able to help.
Anyone that’s started their own business will vouch that it’s a fairly challenging experience. Imagine then, how difficult it would be if you’d recently been homeless. If you’re in that situation now, don’t give in: it is possible. What’s more, there is help available.
What is Crisis and the Changing Lives programme?
The experience of homelessness is incredibly damaging and debilitating, often eroding confidence and skills, which make the journey back more difficult. The national homelessness charity Crisis and Barclays have been working in partnership since 2002 on the Crisis Changing Lives programme. In that time, Changing Lives has provided 319 financial awards to people who are homeless or settling into new homes and looking for support so that they can achieve their vocational goals and realise their career and life ambitions.
Changing Lives was set up to provide individuals who have experienced exclusion through homelessness with a chance to take control of their lives again. Getting housed after being homeless is only part of the road back to living a full and enriching life. The aim is to empower homeless people to build their confidence and gain or regain the essential skills necessary to move forward towards self-help, independence and work, and a permanent move away from homelessness.
Changing Lives is supported by Barclays community investment programme as part of the banks on-going commitment to social and financial inclusion. The programme aims to help Crisis and Barclays meet their wider objectives including: -
- Offering long-term security. Changing Lives responds to the recognition of the fact that providing a roof over someone’s head is only the first step on the route out of the despair of homelessness and towards a more secure future. Changing Lives empowers homeless people to build their confidence and gain, or re-gain, the essential skills necessary to enable them to move forward to self-help, independence and work.
- Uncovering hidden talents. It is apparent that there is a rich seam of potential amongst homeless people. Crisis research has highlighted that 74% of Changing Lives recipients has worked previous to becoming homeless. 17% has held managerial positions. One in ten has been self-employed or ran a business. Many homeless people possess a wealth of skills and experience.
- Harnessing motivation. The research also displayed the levels of determination and motivation that are needed to change their lives, disproving the misconception that homeless people are lazy and unmotivated.
Successful applicants will:
- Have worked out well-planned achievable objectives leading to vocational goals.
- Have shown focus on achieving their goals.
- Have shown self-initiative in finding out the possibilities and are pro-active in working towards achieving their goals.
- Have started to take charge of their lives and have made positive changes to move forward.
For all the Changing Lives recipients, receiving a financial award is a life changing experience. For many, this experience has resulted in real positive change.
- 80% of recipients have achieved their short-term objectives.
- 32% have undertaken work / work placements / voluntary work, helping them achieve a level of independence.
- 70% have gained new friends, helping to increase their social skills, confidence and self-esteem.
- 46% have gained new hobbies.
- 71% reported an increase in their confidence and self-esteem.
To contact Crisis and for more information on the Changing Lives Programme, visit: www.crisis.org.uk
Terry was brought up in care homes from the age of five. When he reached the age of eighteen all support was taken away from him and he found it very hard to cope. He started using drugs and turned to a life crime to make money. He spent almost 61/2 years in and out of prison from the age of eighteen to twenty-seven.
In between prison sentences he spent his time being homeless – sleeping rough, living in squats and with friends. It was during his final prison sentence that he made a conscious decision that prison wasn’t where he wanted to be and he started questioning what exactly it was that he wanted to do. On release he found a job working with a landscape gardener and tree surgeon. He’d found his vocation. Changing Lives helped him gain his qualification as a tree surgeon and covered the cost of equipment. Terry has now set up in business as a landscaper and tree surgeon and is looking to expand.
He says, “Basically, I haven’t looked back. Changing Lives has given me a sense of self-being. Before all I used to do was wake up and question who I was and what I was doing with my life. I get so much satisfaction now – not just the financial independence, but a sense of feeling good and looking forward to the rest of the day”.
Samantha became homeless whilst studying for a BSc (Hons) Psychology degree at university in London. She came to this country in the 90′s when she was just eleven years old and found herself homeless for the first time one and a half years later when her parents separated. As a consequence of the break up, Samantha became depressed and experienced a lot of instability during her teenage years, even experiencing a period of sleeping rough.
In 1998 a family member offered to take her in and give her shelter, having seen the despair of this young girl. However, this was short-lived. In April 2001, whilst Samantha was at university, her ‘aunt’ decided to emigrate from the UK to America. Samantha was given a months notice and soon found herself homeless again. For one year she stayed in a hostel which was totally soul destroying. This was one of Samantha’s loneliest and most vulnerable times in her life.
Though this was far from ideal, it gave her a sense of stability, which meant she could start developing her plans to set up her greeting card business. She had a great sense of purpose and self-motivation about what she needed to do to make her dreams come true. She applied to Changing Lives to fund an Apple Mac, printer and scanner, which would enable her to produce her designs and to start marketing the business to various retailers.
With the help of a Princes’ Trust business mentor she is now successfully meeting high street retailers, many of whom are interested in stocking her designs and she hopes to start trading in the next couple of months. She is determined to succeed and is now looking to expand the business.