| Helen Sharp
Case study: Street Support Network
Many small, co-ordinated actions add up to a big difference to homeless people in the city.
The idea behind Street Support was developed in Manchester, a city that has seen a 900% increase in the homeless population in the last six years. Co-founder Viv Slack felt frustrated and helpless about the problem and coming from a digital background, she was convinced that technology could help somehow.
After countless conversations on social media, Viv’s first idea was to develop the concept of shelter vouchers that people could pay for through a mobile, and the homeless person could redeem. It seemed to have real potential and she partnered with Gary Dunstan from Doing Good Digital. However they soon realized that with so few accommodation options for homeless people, the idea was problematic. Plus it still encouraged a victim mentality, for the homeless person to beg for help.
Viv and Gary carried out further research and conversations across the sector to establish what was truly needed and from this came the realization that there was a whole range of different charities, voluntary groups and compassionate people helping to support homeless people, but with patchy co-ordination between them.
So Street Support was born – a co-produced central online resource which aims to make it easier for people who are homeless to get the help they need. They make it easier for the network to collaborate, co-ordinate and provide better support for people experiencing homelessness. And they make it easier for citizens and businesses to DO something to help.
A simple app and website links homeless people to resources, accommodation and employment opportunities and connects people offering time, money, jobs, accommodation and a wealth of other things to the places and people who need them. It’s so much more than an on-line tool. It’s the ‘go-to’ place for anyone with an interest in the sector and co-production with people is the core approach which drives everything they do.
Viv would say “focus on what’s really needed” and you’ll only understand what that is when you speak to the people at the heart of it.