When it comes to considering employing people with personal insight into homelessness, there are a lot of barriers. Yet, there are a lot of compelling reasons to do so too.
For every concern surrounding stable addresses, bank accounts and ID, there’s an organisation looking to smooth the path through the recruitment process. Worries around the confidence and skill sets of those being offered a role are assuaged through working in partnership with the third and public sector to ready people for work.
Quietly (or not so quietly held) perceptions and stigma, around a person’s mental or physical health, sobriety or criminal background are balanced with empathy and a willingness to explore the systemic as well as personal reasons a person might experience homelessness.
Yet, that’s just the personal drive. From an organisational perspective, in our work to get under the business barrier to employing people impacted by homelessness, there are five key motivations we’ve uncovered for getting involved.
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion is moving from business buzzword to standard practice now in the private sector, yet, the focus is very much still on gender, with some of the more progressive businesses out there looking in addressing race, LGBTQ+ and ability gaps within their talent pool.
Yet, very little focus is given to social inclusion. Whilst large organisations support initiatives to support ex-offenders and people struggling to find work through Job Centre Plus, this type of recruitment often considered part of corporate social responsibility.
What we’re finding is a shift in attitude. Moving from a mindset of “helping vulnerable people” to “how can people from different backgrounds benefit our business” is profound in its impact, and fortunately, we’re working with some of the most progressive businesses in Greater Manchester to explore it.
Being progressive is also balanced with the practical. Greater Manchester’s economy is booming, but as we see new businesses, industries and properties flood into the region, we’re also faced with a growing need for talent. People, on the ground, undertaking the jobs that are being created.
Construction is case in point. You can’t walk through Manchester without happening upon a dozen cranes. Yet across the U.K., we’re struggling with a skills shortage in the sector, as older generations retire from related trades, and young people flock to more appealing industries.
Tech too is finding it hard to train, recruit and retain talent. With the region fashioning itself into a tech hub, bringing on board the bodies needed to sustain growth and compete on a global stage is essential. Yet, where to find them.
With Brexit looming large, and the threatened loss of migrant workers looking to impact the expanding hospitality industry too, looking to alternative groups will become a key part of HR strategy, with the first movers gaining a competitive advantage.
Whilst some of the recruitment surrounding social mobility – looking to people who have experienced poverty or disadvantage at some point in their lives – can be proactive in nature, some are mandated.
With local councils spotting opportunities to link needs across the use of property and public space with their health and work and skills initiatives, encouraging businesses which require licenses or approval from city councils (e.g. construction, hospitality) to employ people struggling to find and secure work in the region is a public sector win-win.
Social clauses in public sector contracts are resultantly becoming increasingly popular. For those organisations looking at the talent opportunity and diversity and inclusion benefits which come with bringing on board people with different backgrounds, the demand to shift recruitment focus can positively impact the private sector too.
Community Give Back
In addition to working for the public and private sector, there are bigger wins for those cities and regions which address poverty and homelessness in a strategic way.
With £1 in every £5 spent on poverty within the public sector, and an average of £20,000 spent supporting rough sleepers annually, that’s a lot of money that could be released back into the public purse and spent on investing in our towns and cities. With £14,000 put back into the local economy with every person employed, greater prosperity too.
Prosperity that we’re already seeing in the investment that’s coming into Greater Manchester. The expansion of the airport, Amazon’s move to Bolton and the cultural financing through The Factory is brilliant, but as the region with the greatest income disparity outside of London, without action, will only be enjoyed by the few.
Right Thing To Do
Last, but not least, employing people who have experienced homelessness because it’s the right thing to do. Outside of London, Greater Manchester is one of the most impacted regions when it comes to homelessness, and its visible day to day on our streets. Our most vulnerable citizens need help.
Yet, people confusing homelessness with rough sleeping – when in fact its only parts of the picture – is getting in the way. Rough sleeping nationally accounts for less than 2% of those impacted, and there are hundreds of thousands of people in hostels, sofa surfing and in supported accommodation who are willing to work.
It’s those organisations, looking beyond the assumptions to the root causes of the issue and realising the issue goes beyond personal responsibility, working in collaboration with those already helping people in difficult situations and think strategically that will help make a meaningful, impactful and long-term difference to people’s lives.
Think you might be able to help create secure and stable futures? Get in touch.