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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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