The leap from off the street and into work is not as impossible as it may seem

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive

As chief executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in many different events that help people leave homelessness behind for good.

One of the most extraordinary is the Crisis Employment Platform.

Across the UK, we hold events where people who are homeless can come along and get practical help getting back into work. Prospective employers, large and small, are invited to meet our clients and chat about job opportunities. As well as this, people can take part in CV workshops or even get a new suit to help them in that crucial interview.

Walking round one of these events, what you really notice is the determination of people who want to help themselves out of homelessness through earning their own wage. If you stand in the midst of people gathering leaflets, asking questions about roles, jotting down details about employers it’s easy to forget this is a homelessness charity – it could be an employment fair anywhere in the UK.

These special events, plus of course dedicated year-round employment teams working with our clients, last year helped 681 people into work. This year we’re on track to help even more.

This is all the more impressive when you remember that the people coming to Crisis often face a range of complex issues, including long-term unemployment, social isolation and mental or physical health problems. Many will have had deeply traumatic experiences. Some will have slept rough.

But what these 681 people prove is that with the right support, someone who has been through this horrific experience can move back into work and onto a better life. It might seem like an impossible leap to take from the street to work, but homeless people want to work, and homeless people can work. Our research has shown that 88 per cent of homeless people said they wanted a job now or in the future.

A recent success story was one of our clients who had gone to work in a hotel. She quickly became a valued member of staff and had just been awarded ‘Employee of the Month’. She is now financially secure, independent and incredibly proud of her achievement. And the hotel has gained a motivated, reliable person to add to their team.

And across the UK stories like this are being repeated. Employers and homeless people are reaping the benefits and more people are, through their own work, able to leave homelessness behind once and for all.

That is why I’m so excited about See Potential. Persuading more employers to think differently about how they recruit will not only transform the lives of homeless people for good, but it will be of huge benefit to businesses large and small. The work we do day in, day out and the happy people and employers who benefit are living proof that this approach can and does work.

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