We are not asking you to just ‘walk on by’. By all means engage street homeless people in conversation, even buy them a cup of tea or food. But please don’t give them money. We have seen too many people die from overdoses on the street. Your kindness could kill.Thames Reach

Capturing compassion

Many of us have been there. We’ve walked past someone on the street, felt compelled to help them but then held back from giving them the cash they are asking for out of fear that they will spend it on something, like drink or drugs, that merely traps them in their predicament. Our research shows that mistrust is the biggest barrier for people in giving cash to the homeless on the street. Without time or ideas for how else to help, the moment of compassion is all too often lost.

Digital donations

The REDEEM platform aims to capture this compassion by empowering people to give when they feel prompted to do so, but in a responsible and purposeful way, and to provide them with visibility of the difference they have made. Using a mobile app, users can gift needed products and services, rather than cash, that meet both short-term and long-term needs and can be redeemed by recipients at local, partner business outlets and support services.

Small steps

We aim to meet people where they are at. That’s why, for some, just the gesture of giving and the engagement it entails is the most valuable thing. A simple cup of coffee they can redeem later in the day, when convenient, gets them off the street, even for a short time, and empowers them to interact healthily with society while allowing them to remain anonymous and take the small step forward of responding to and claiming the gift for themselves.

Giant leaps

For others, in a different position, we aim to facilitate more ambitious opportunities for transformation. These could start with clothing, haircuts and appointments with the optician and dentist through to, eventually, training courses and even job opportunities. The possibilities are vast. Recipients who would like to will be able to register on the app through support partners which will enable them to accumulate savings towards bigger goals.




  • Meets immediate needs by providing essentials like food, clothing and shelter
  • Encourages more engagement and interaction with the public
  • Provides opportunities – such as training – that open up alternative futures


  • Facilitates responsible giving and a personal connection with the needy
  • Shares positive feedback when gifts are redeemed, highlighting the impact
  • Creates more opportunities to give as we move to a cashless society

Partner businesses

  • Captures additional sales through donations and greater awareness with givers
  • Captures additional sales through enhanced reputational impact
  • Improves accounting and social enterprise reporting of charitable activities

Partner charities

  • Frees up existing funding for investment into prevention programmes
  • Provides analysis and insight into hot spots of needs
  • Generates additional donations from gifts not redeemed


  • Reduces social issues caused by drugs and a source of revenue for dealers
  • Increases public awareness and improves integration of those in need into society
  • Creates economic activity by using businesses to meet charitable needs

Broader applications

  • Give a helping hand to anyone in need, not just to the homeless
  • Give responsibly to your children when they go out, with greater visibility of their activities
  • Build up digital, redeemable, loyalty points when giving, as a thank-you



A growing need

Rise in rough sleeping

There has been an alarming rise in rough sleeping in recent years, more than doubling since 2010. This is one of the most visible forms of need and its rise in prevalence additionally risks its normalisation.

The iceberg underwater

Over 77,000 households were in temporary accommodation in England in March 2017. However, many more are estimated as hidden from statistics, for example through sofa surfing or squatting.

More seeking support

Need goes beyond homelessness to other basic essentials. The rise in food bank use may be partly due to supply but even established food banks have seen big uplifts in demand in recent years.

Although there are many individuals and organisations doing an amazing job in helping the homeless, and others in need, the challenge continues to grow and more support than ever is needed just to keep pace with increasing demands. Let's never forget that behind each of the dire statistics lies real individuals and real families facing hardships. To turn the tide, we need to unlock additional resource but also deploy those resources more innovatively, connecting compassion with creativity.

Converting compassion

Personal connections

Almost one in four people in the UK knows someone who has experienced homelessness. These personal connections with those in need are a powerful motivation for making a difference.

Complex causes

Fewer than a third of people primarily “blame” the homeless for their situation and recognise a variety of others with responsibility, including the government, family and friends and society itself.

Sympathetic sentiments

This word cloud, generated from descriptions of the homeless in our survey of the public, shows a preponderance of sympathetic sentiments which could be better harnessed for intervention.

Despite widespread, generous giving of time and resources, there remains a huge amount of untapped potential for making a difference for the needy amongst the wider public. Their unquestionable compassion, that is all too often lost amongst the complexity and concerns of modern life, could be better captured and converted into a positive impact. To do so, we need simpler and more responsive mechanisms for people to make a visible difference when they have the conviction to do so.

Breaking barriers

Visibility and viability

The biggest barriers people have with giving money to those on the streets are a lack of trust in what the money will be spent on and the practical issue of carrying less physical change today. Technology can provide solutions to both: building trust through visibility and enabling cashless donations for viability.

Vision and value

The biggest encouragement to give more to the homeless is to connect any giving to a bigger purpose in preventing or providing a path out of homelessness, not just sustaining the lifestyle. Close behind, and related to this, is the ability to donate valuable gifts that help people in – and out of – their predicament.

Visibility and viability

The biggest barriers people have with giving money to those on the streets are a lack of trust in what the money will be spent on and a practical issue of carrying less physical change these days. In both cases, technology can provide a solution by delivering visibility, for trust, and viability, for cashless donations.

Vision and value

The biggest encouragement for giving more to the homeless is by connecting giving to a bigger purpose in preventing or providing a path out of homelessness, not just sustaining the lifestyle. Close behind, and related to this, is the ability to donate valuable gifts that help people in – and out of – their predicament.

A common theme in overcoming barriers to giving that could unlock this vast potential amongst the public in the face of rapidly growing needs is creating connections. Connections between giver and recipient, so you can interact face-to-face and meet someone's genuine needs while gaining visibility of the impact you've made; between business and charity, so we make better and more productive use of society's resources; and between redeeming gifts and redeeming lives, for a better future.



How it works


Step 1 - Givers give

  • Pre-register in app once with credit card details

  • Speak to those in need to find out how you can help

  • Select appropriate gift from the app

  • App identifies closest matching partner outlet for redeeming gift and shares address

  • Enter recipient’s first name and confirm to donate

Step 2 - Recipients redeem

  • Recipient has generous time limit to head to outlet

  • Outlet version of app shows list of donated products – with names – awaiting redemption

  • Recipient confirms name and collects product at till

  • Payment is taken from giver with thank-you note sent

  • If not redeemed within time limit, giver can choose to gift the cash value to charity or donation is cancelled


Try the prototype

This interactive prototype is currently being refined and developed for launch. Please give it a go and do let us know your feedback. What additional functionality or product and service categories are needed? How can we make the experience even simpler and quicker for givers and more effective for recipients? (In case you click on anything that isn't enabled in this demonstration, hotspot hints will be shown)




Click on the participant above to see questions and answers relevant to them



Check back here for news and updates about REDEEM as well as insights and reports from our research.


Teaser trailer



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