UK tech start-up Beam aims to combat homelessness by crowdfunding work training and helping the homeless into stable jobs. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) BEAM FOUNDER AND CEO, ALEX STEPHANY, SAYING: "So it's now incredibly safe and quick to help a homeless person train up and get into work." It's called Beam. And it wants to help solve the UK's homeless crisis through crowdfunding, where small amounts of money are raised from a large number of people. A recent report by homeless charity Shelter estimates more than 300,000 people are homeless in Britain - a jump of over 13,000 in one year. Founder and CEO Alex Stephany explains how Beam hopes to fight that (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEAM FOUNDER AND CEO, ALEX STEPHANY, SAYING: "You make a donation to an individuals's campaign, that campaign funding is split between employment training and any other costs that individual might need, it might be as large as childcare for a single parent or as small as a hard hat and Beam looks after all of these funds on your behalf." Beam's goal is to get homeless people into stable employment. Tony is one of its pilot members. In less than a month, his campaign to become a fully-trained electrician raised over 4,000 pounds from 136 supporters - mostly strangers (UPSOT) (English) BEAM MEMBER, TONY, SAYING: "I was touched and very surprised." He had funded his own initial training. But was struggling to come up with the cash for the final stage. He's now joined a course at a local training facility. And says Beam provided the practical help to get there (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEAM MEMBER, TONY, SAYING: "There's a lot of talking but no action is getting done and that's the difference I feel with Beam - things happened very quickly." A member manager comes up with a plan and budget, meaning potential sponsors can see exactly where their money is going. Its founder says that transparency is what separates Beam from traditional begging. And that it's helping a homeless person for the long-term (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEAM FOUNDER AND CEO, ALEX STEPHANY, SAYING: "How can we take a small amount of money and do something so much more powerful than just give it to someone, how can we actually make a really smart investment in that individual's future"