Change Please will start to provide help and assistance to the most vulnerable from November onwards, ahead of the coldest months. Keep your eyes peeled for the Driving for Change buses around London, which will be in Croydon soon.
In a world first, the Driving for Change initiative – backed by sponsors HSBC UK, Colgate and sub-sponsor Mastercard - will be an all-in-one direct intervention service providing those experiencing homelessness access to free GP consultations, haircuts, dental care, digital and financial literacy training, support opening a bank account where appropriate, employment support, shower facilities, therapy assessments, and essential everyday items.
Despite the government’s ban on evictions, increases to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme, the numbers of rough sleepers have risen exponentially over the past 18 months, with an estimated 130,000 households made homeless because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This one-stop solution is a vital offering that will give people experiencing homelessness pathways to potentially life-saving key services that centralise support. In addition to the multiple services Driving for Change will provide, Change Please are in talks with the NHS to provide vaccinations against COVID-19 on the buses for rough sleepers.
The November roll-out will see Driving for Change run for a minimum of two years, with ambition to expand throughout the UK starting in Manchester, then moving abroad to Paris, and throughout the United States.
HSBC UK, Colgate and Mastercard have played a key part in funding the project and will offer information and guidance on longer-term programs that sustainably support those experiencing homelessness. HSBC UK will provide support and resources on financial wellbeing* and can assist people in opening a basic bank account with their ‘No Fixed Address’ service, and Colgate and Community Dental Services (CDS CIC) will offer access to dental care and oral health education as part of their commitment to providing healthy and confident smiles for everyone. Mastercard is also on board, with a representative from its ‘Nobody in the Dark’ campaign present to impart key digital literacy skills.
Designed by leading architecture and design firm TP Bennett, the interior design concept on each bus offers a safe space to make attendees feel comfortable and at ease.
Founder of Change Please, Cemal Ezel said: “We are thrilled to take this next step in tackling the homelessness crisis in England and the Driving for Change project will help us reach those in need throughout London. At Change Please we believe in sustainable approaches to ending homelessness and Driving for Change will give the most vulnerable people the opportunity to access crucial services which can guide and support them in changing their lives long-term. We hope to take the project nationwide and then internationally to achieve maximum impact; discussions around Paris and Los Angeles have already begun.”
Maxine Pritchard, Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC UK said: “It’s a sad fact that people experiencing homelessness can struggle to access the financial system because they do not have the required identification documents. Without a bank account it’s extremely difficult to claim benefits, rent accommodation or receive wages, which means people who are homeless can become trapped in their current situation.
“Our No Fixed Address service aims to break this cycle by working with charities to provide access to a basic bank account without the need for ID or proof of address. We’re pleased to bring this service to more people in need via the Change Please Project.”
Taylor Gordy, General Manager of Colgate Northern Europe, said: “Oral hygiene is a critical form of healthcare and we know a healthy smile can give people affected by homelessness the confidence boost they need. At Colgate, we believe everybody deserves a future they can smile about, so we’re delighted to be a partner of Driving For Change to bring that commitment to life.”
Kelly Devine, Division President, Mastercard UK & Ireland said: “Digital and financial literacy go hand in hand in making a difference to people’s lives. We are thrilled to take part in The Change Please Driving for Change Project to equip rough sleepers with the skills to start taking control of their financial futures. Our work with Driving for Change is another step in tackling the digital divide by getting them back on their feet AND on a secure financial footing which will help them in the long term.”
Driving for Change has also been made possible by customers continuing to buy Change Please coffee, as 100% of profits from the coffee business go towards financing charitable activities. Change Please continues its six-year-long work with people who are homeless, providing them with the resources to turn their lives around. Through its barista training program, Change Please takes pride in its efforts to work directly with those experiencing homelessness to provide a long-term solution, to not only lift people out of homelessness, but to offer sustainable support to give people a real chance to get their life back.
For more information on the Change Please and Driving For Change, and how to share your support, please visit changeplease.org
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