During a period of uncertainty, here’s how Beam – homelessness social enterprise and now one of Tropic’s ‘force for good’ partners – is shining a promising light at the end of a dark tunnel.
2020 was a devastating year for many, with a maze of tricky obstacles for us all to face. Thankfully, most of us could be grateful for a roof over our heads and a warm place to call home. But, for the 253,000 homeless people in England during the pandemic (Shelter) – the highest figure for 14 years – the challenges of a testing year were even greater.
Tropic is a brand that cares greatly about its community, especially when it comes to the health and safety of those within it. Everyone deserves to feel safe and empowered, which is why Tropic partnered with Beam last year, a charity that gives homeless people the long-term support they need to get into stable, paid work and enables them to find a better quality of life.
The pandemic has taught us that bad luck doesn’t discriminate and homelessness can affect anybody at any time – many people have faced job losses and, unable to pay bills, have been left in incredibly vulnerable positions. Society has taught us to conjure stereotypical images of what a typical ‘homeless person’ looks like, but the issue is far more complex than we may think.
“People often equate homelessness with rough sleeping,” says Montana Gerry, Head of Communications at Beam. “Rough sleeping is a tragedy for those forced to do it, but it is just one form of homelessness, and accounts for only two per cent of homelessness figures. Lack of a permanent abode, living with friends or other temporary accommodation can lead to instability that makes it hard for people to focus on finding work. Homelessness can affect a person’s mental and physical health and many homeless people feel trapped and isolated – it can be difficult for them to see a way out.”
Each person Beam supports is referred to them by an established homeless charity or their local council. “We try to build up people’s confidence and self-worth by providing them with a dedicated case worker who helps them on their journey towards independence. We give everyone the opportunity to share their story in their own words; it’s a judgment-free zone where they can talk about the challenges they’ve faced and their hopes and dreams for the future.”
Alongside the one-to-one support they offer, Beam works to challenge misconceptions about homeless people. “The reality is that homelessness can happen for a multitude of complex reasons,” explains Montana. “At Beam, we’ve helped single mums, care givers, ex-offenders and veterans. Each person's story is unique, but the underlying thread is that they lack a vital support system to help them get back on their feet.”
Peter, a Beam beneficiary, ended up homeless due to the pandemic. “When the company I was working for went into administration at the start of the first UK lockdown, I became homeless. I didn't have any savings as I was working hard to pay off my university fees and had taken out a private loan. I ended up sleeping in a car for six weeks as I couldn’t pay rent. Never in a million years did I think I’d become homeless. Just because you have a university degree and are well-educated, you’re not immune from life’s challenges.”
So far, Tropic has donated nearly £50,000 to Beam to help the fantastic work they do to fund people’s futures. “Since Tropic started supporting Beam in October 2020, they’ve already helped over 30 people build better futures,” says Montana. “Three of those beneficiaries are already in work, with the rest still in training or job hunting.
As we head into 2021, more uncertain times lie ahead. But the future's looking brighter and more secure for many, including Peter, thanks to Beam. “I’m now working for DPD as a warehouse operative,” he says. “I am paying my friend rent to stay with him and no longer need to stay in my car. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received from Beam and I’m now starting to look forward to what the future might hold.”