The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Charity Begins With Home …
July 4, 2007, 7:40 am
Filed under: human_2

please help

Today I am asking for your help.

For a great number of years, the situation with the homeless has really upset me. I find it absolutely tragic that in this day and age so many people find their only option is living on the street … but what makes it worse is that so many in society seem happy to simply walk past these individuals as if they are invisible to the naked eye.

A couple of weekends ago – as I was driving home to my Mum – I encountered a homeless guy, Brian, whose situation was so sad that I decided I had to stop being upset by the situation and try to do something about it.

The basic issue is that many of these individuals are caught in the poverty/red-tape trap … they cannot get a job because they need to have a fixed address, and they can’t get a fixed address because they haven’t got a job.

It basically spirals downwards and people with potential, talent and dreams end up in a situation where their future is non-existent … where their biggest achievement will be getting some food in their mouth that day.

[Even more tragic are those individuals who suffer with mental problems because they find themselves in a situation where nearly everyone they come across will take advantage of them in some way and they are too innocent to understand it till its too late]

Now I know some of you may be thinking, “But they could go home” … and that might be true for some, however in the main, the reason they leave home is because there’s a situation there which is untenable for them – so what we are endeavoring to do is help these people get back on their own feet and take back control of their life rather than have life control them.

[And if anyone goes on about ‘professional beggars’ I will scream. OK … maybe there’s 0.00005% of people who are scam artists, but as far as I am concerned, if someone sits on a cold pavement, begging passers-by for a few pence/cents change, then they are hardly living a happy life and should be treated with respect and sensitivity]

Homeless Man and Chanel

I should point out that as much as ‘money’ would probably help these people … this isn’t about financial handouts. What these people actually seek is the ability to regain some self esteem, pride and hope – they want to help themselves out of their situation, not be reliant on charity.The Big Issue was created because of this insight – and while it has been brilliant in making a massive difference, the explosion of the homeless has meant that there are now simply too many people for it to be as viable as it once was.

So what are we going to do?

Well as I said, the critical issue is that these people cannot work unless they have an address … and what I’d like is for you lot to come up with practical ideas that will allow us to overcome this barrier so that people can get back on the right path with their lives.

Once we have an idea that we think can be powerful and effective [we have a couple including a ‘timeshare of home addresses’ so that people have a place to ‘send their correspondence’ … though as Marcus highlighted, with the ‘War On Terror’ this may no longer be practical] I intend to launch a lobby group called  human_2 which will become an official charitable organisation focused on helping the homeless help themselves to a better future.

I have some rather well known people who are interested in getting behind this, but it’s all down to finding the right idea we can push through / promote.

This is really important to me … and whilst I appreciate you may all have different agendas/concerns … any help you can give would be wonderful.

Thank you.

199 Comments so far
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This is probably naive on my part, but would working with a church or some related organization to ‘sublet’ their address be plausible? Don’t some people (e.g. clergy, church workers) actually live on church premises?

Comment by Mark

I like the idea of using the Church as a central address point and it might heal some of the damage thats been done over the past few decades.

Comment by Pete

Good luck Rob and well done.

Comment by Irish Anger

I’m in. Homeless is a miserable existence and can happen a lot easier than many would think is possible.

Comment by Charles Frith

Hello All …

Love the idea Mark – especially following Pete and Marucs’ comments.

And Charles, thanks mate … this is a massive issue to me and so any help/ideas/advice would be tops.

Oh and Mr Irish, thanks – lets see what we can do and thanks for your support, it means alot.

Comment by Rob

Construction companies/ property developers like Keppel, Ashwell Plc etc. can take up this cause as a part of their social responsibility. I mean they can actually build home for the homeless and provide them with an address. On the job front, (and the likes)can take the cause of helping them with jobs, vocational training etc.

Am sure there are few human beings (noble souls) left in the corporate world who might take up this cause seriously.

Comment by pooR

Love it … what a great thing it would be for the property developer/construction company to do, if only for PR.

Yes … yes … I appreciate that would mean they’re doing it more for their benefit than the homeless, but if it helps, I couldn’t give a toss.

Comment by Rob

There is so much to this subject it’s difficult to know where to start. This is because it’s a human problem where each and every story is totally unique and totally personal. The only thing that links all of these personal stories together is the principle of “catch 22”. And the really difficult and painful thing is that it is never a just once catch 22 on it’s own but a series of them. Get past one and the next follows.

For example you need to have an address to get a job – but to get an address you need a job. But to get either of these you need to be washed and have clean clothes.

As Rob has outlined in his post, there are reasons why people are homeless and these reasons are normally so dreadful, so painful and so complex that it usually makes it impossible for them to “go back home”. Then there is their experience on the streets which is both emotionally and physically traumatic. The homeless are not an untapped, employable resource that has yet to be discovered people that you can employ immediately and expect them to get on with it.

I’ve worked for homeless charities and the most important thing than we can do is to create empowerment. Empowerment is the most important thing of all. From it comes self respect, respect for others and with guidance empowerment puts people in a place where they can start putting the pieces of their lives back together – by themselves and for themselves.

This is a problem that you can’t solve quickly. There is no quick impact idea, fast track or short cut. Anything you decide to do has to be done properly and has to work straight away without failure because you hurt a person if you fuck it up.

I would suggest a tiny idea – which is actually quite big. I shop, a little corner shop that sells stuff. The shop is run by people who USED to be homeless – they are not anymore because you’ve given them a home – either above, next to or behind the shop. The shop would employ no more than 5 people who would spend their time in training, counselling, sorting out any legal shit and of course working in the shop.

They have 12 months. If it works, if it really works you’ve changed the lives of five people for the better. If it doesn’t, for whatever reason work – the five people are fit enough, clean enough, have an address and work experience so that they can apply for work elsewhere.

After the 12 months (and if this has all worked) the five help implement 5 more shops for 25 more people. The initial five become managers for the shop and use their experience to help, guide and build.

After 2 -5 years you could consider a supermarket.

Bit of a ramble. Hope that helps a little.

Comment by Marcus

Yes I’m in.The AA still thinks I live in my old house – which sort of shows that it’s HAVING an address more than LIVING at it. A central address point makes a lot of sense.

Comment by NP

Nice idea. A bit like Mail Boxes Etc for the homeless…

You dont sleep on concrete in the middle of a street unless you have to.

Good luck. If we can help then would be glad to.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Marcus, your post proves you need to be employed back in ‘thinkingland’ ASAP … and you’re right, the need to be clean and presentable is another issue we need to address … I actually met Brian because he was trying to get back to a Lorry Truck stop to wash for an interview.

And NP, thanks mate – and as I answered to Charles, this is a massive issue to me and so any help/ideas/advice you can give would be tops.

Comment by Rob

There are plenty of temping agencies. Why not set one up specifically for the homeless? If the adddress is sorted out (see above) the fact that they were non-profit would mean the people could be paid at LEAST as much as everyone else, and still be cheaper to the employer thanks to not paying the huge mark up fees.
In exhange for a much cheaper labourer, they would have to guarantee a minimum contract, and training. Easy and cheaper for them, damned brilliant for people who want to work.
It’s only one small thing, but like Marcus says, it’s probably lots of little small things that will make the difference.

Comment by NP

…..and loads of new homes developers have thousands of homes with official adresses they haven’t sold yet. Can’t they ‘lend’ the address to people – at least until it’s sold?

Comment by NP

I love the temping agency idea … the issue for me is how can we make things happen initially without the need for considerable financial involvement – mainly because society are already being asked for too much money and are becoming more and more desensatised to it all.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fucking magic – but this is something I and a few others want to fund [at least initially] … and while 2 of them are VERY wealthy, there is a limit to what I can expect them to invest, especially as they help in many other charities.

Comment by Rob

i know i have insulted everyone on this blog, but this is a fucking important cause so please help. well done rob, you have a nasty habit of making me proud of knowing you.

Comment by andy@cynic

Im sure if you ran this in the UK you could get Lottery support to help fund it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Re: The temp agency idea – either do what Mr M suggests and get lottery funding, or approach one of the bigger temp agencies (not sure if there are worldwide temp agencies, but never mind), PerTemps say, and get them involved.

You could also do the same thing with letting agencies, such as Foxtons. God knows they are staffing up at the moment.

Comment by Will

I like the lottery funding idea – I’ll look into that ASAP but what about ideas revolving around the key issue I detailed [plus the thing about looking and smelling presentable] … any ideas on that on top of the Church/Property Developers?

Think of it as a mini A[P]SOTW assignment, ha!

Comment by Rob

I think you almost need to generate pride in other people. Its hard for homeless to feel proud of their talents when people shimmy past them quietly every minute of the day.

You could create some event for publicity where you actually sit homeless people in a room, dress them up smartly, and have them engage in conversation with people. Even filming it. Make people remember that they arent animals, they are people just in a bad situation.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

rob, i’m really glad you’re on this case and marcus, i’m so glad you said all of that stuff. being homeless is not just about having an address – there is displacement across your whole life. starting small and including very basic care ‘training’ is imperative because these are some of the major issues behind being homeless – you no longer have the power to care for yourself or interact with others enough to be able to ‘fit in’ to the social fabric.

there is a charity in woolloomooloo (that’s pronounced wool-a-ma-loo) in sydney, right in the heart of some of the city’s chronic homelessness and about 2 minute’s walk from some of the country’s wealthiest houses, which works of a similar model to marcus’. the op shop (charity shop) is run by people who used to be homeless. the cafe out the back is too. they get people’s dole money care of that address and give it to them, both those who are ‘earning’ and those in the area who aren’t. there’s a sense of community that is still about, which is crucial to supporting homeless people – because the community of others who have been in the same place is what keeps them either off the streets, or if they’re still on the streets, in the area close by.

and i know it probably doesn’t help matters, but i’ve always wanted to put lockers (and showers) in the big train stations, which are available to the homeless, to put their stuff in during the day. it doesn’t solve the problem that they’re living on the street, but as a mini-step in the right direction, at least it will give them a sense of a ‘place’ to put things – they would have a key and could access it whenever they wanted to.

Comment by lauren

in fact, with the olympics coming up in london in a few year’s time, mayor of london will probably be wanting to ‘do’ something about the homeless in london for then. perhaps you have yourself a willing financial partner who would be willing to look at a grand-scheme model.

Comment by lauren

Nice idea Lauren.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

This issue is still, for me, empowerment. There are a number of things here which are unpleasant but still need to be discussed. In my experience people needing help are very suspicious of the help they are being offered; is it real help, is it genuine, am I being used?

I know it may sound strange but any idea we come up with needs to be something that people like Brain will actually WANT to be PART of. And this has nothing to do with laziness – far more to do with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake, fear of making a fool of themselves, fear of being found (this is a massive issue and should not be under estimated), fear of becoming a burden and a basic crippling fear of failure.

By wanting to help them, we become PART of there lives and that is a huge responsibility. The challenge is to empower them want to become and stay PART of ours.

Comment by Marcus

*nods head*

Comment by Rob Mortimer

*nods head* – you’re absolutely right marcus.

Comment by lauren

So, how do we do it?

Comment by Marcus

Well, Big Issue worked by giving people some dignity in earning themselves money.

Maybe you could be a subcontractor for work; and you then give that work to homeless people to do. You also need to dissuade the fears businesses will have that using homeless people could risk thefts and damage to their premises.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

guys i think were missing the issue here. sure there are fuck loads we can and should do but we need to be focused on one thing and not try and do too much and end up fucking it all up.
i love the railway locker idea lauren, fucking love it and i love the shower concepts, but the issue is that these people want to work because it gives them dignity, self respect and pride and so anything we do has to be focused on overcoming the obstacles that stop this happening, rather than including things that will make their living conditions better. the reason rob talks about the address option is that is an area that fundamentally stops them moving forward. this is not to stop peoples suggestions, but we have to focus on things that help them take control of their life because anything else is more about making their life more comfortable than better.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well done Rob, this is brilliant and it makes up for the vacuum attachment post a few days ago. I want to take this opportunity to remind people what you told me to do everytime I see a homeless person. Acknowledge them. Even if you have no money to give or no Big Issue to buy, acknowledge you’ve seen them and that they are a living, breathing person because too many people just walk past as if they are invisible. Rob bollocked me about this a few years ago and I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve been thanked for simply saying “Hello” because for the whole day they’ve been ignored. Given so much about getting a job is pride, respect and self esteem, this simple act could prove to be more effective than a couple of quid or a cup of tea.
I am proud of you Rob, I want this to work more than anything and if you’re behind it, it will.

Comment by George

A lot of the time people dont acknowledge the homeless because they feel bad. Its difficult not to give money to someone homeless that you acknowledge.

I think its a wonderful idea, and I hope it works.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Help us Andy. What would you do?

Comment by Marcus

i think the issue is about self respect and the things that tend to help people gain it is a feeling of being in control of your own destiny and achieving/progressing on your own merit so what id do on top of the address idea is things like create a program where the police can act as a personal reference as long as you havent been in trouble before, id offer free city & guild training courses (are they even called that anymore) in subjects where there is a shortage of workers, id make them all official olympic guides, id offer them free legal advice because many of them are in situations that are just fucking wrong and cant do anything about it, id give them access to computers so they can apply for jobs, theres probably lots we can do but it shouldnt be anything that uses them as cheap labour in jobs that have little or no respect.
im not saying these ideas are “the answer”, its just where my head is starting at because you asked.

Comment by andy@cynic

There’s some strong ideas in there Andy. The one that stands out, for me at least, is the Police thing. That get’s me thinking.

Comment by Marcus

I think the first thing we need to do is make the society at large realise that these homeless people are a part of us. Probably a better idea would be to adopt a homeless. Make them a part of the family. Offer them a room to live. Offer the clean old clothes, two square meal. Offer them a drivers job (help them get a license), a butler’s job, a cook’s job. And pay them well for their efforts. Dignity of life might come from there. Though I know, nobody would want to offer a room to a stranger (that too a homeless) within the family.

Comment by pooR

of course theres some gems in there marcus, its from me. i need to spend some more time on this because its been really all robs bag, but the police thing might have something but i am sure theres something simpler and better once weve had some time to think about it. got your email, but everytime i respond it says it’s faulty so fuck knows what im doing but its bound to be crackberries fault

Comment by andy@cynic

can i tell you that this post, and the ensuing thread has been fucking with me all day. it doesn’t help matters at all, but i had to try and go to a job interview and ask the question ‘why should we hire you’ and all i could think was, ‘you shouldn’t, you should hire the guy who lives on the golden jubilee bridge whose shoes were stolen last night’ – but that doesn’t really cut it. and i do still have to somehow pay my rent or i’ll be joining him.

i think having access to 24hr mental/physical health services are fucking crucial. once you’re on the streets, your mental health situation is on slow decline and to have access to someone else to speak to, get medication (if that’s what’s needed) and to clean your teeth, brush your hair is so important. and open at 2am.

Comment by lauren

Lauren you are a sweetheart but you need a good job because then you’ll have the capacity to help others less fortunate than yourself.

It’s like people that say they don’t want kids because the World is in such a bad state and they don’t want them to have to live in it – to which I reply that these are exactly the sort of people who should bring children into the World because then they could hopefully re-address the balance of negativity going on and influence the planet into being a happier, healthier, more understanding place.

No one should feel guilty about having/getting a good job … it’s what you do with your ‘rewards’ that should determine whether you feel guilty or not.

How did you go by the way?

Comment by Rob

morning – i’m hopping on a bus to manchester in 7 hours’ time, so i really shouldn’t be replying to you. but seeing as i’m here..

i know that guilt is not going to save the world (despite what my catholic primary school teachers said), so i will get a job, but today it fucked with me all the same. in fact, tonight at a gig, the band who played gave a homeless guy a ticket back stage! he watched them, watched us all dancing, had a ball, got to drink their rider and was part of the whole experience! i thought it was a fucking brilliant idea (and i’ll post about it later)

and on the job front, it went really well. funnily enough, i now have to choose between a well-paying job in a print shop in the financial sector, or a medium paying job working at a really inspiring art supply store – the one that wants to ‘fill the town with artists’.. ha! [it’s not a hard decision, just amusing].

Comment by lauren

Lauren … fuck the art store for inspiration, I reckon you’re pretty good at making people feel excited about possibilities yourself. I know that probably sounds patronising or codecending but that’s the issue of blogging – you can’t see my eyes to know what I am saying is absofuckinglutely true.

Comment by Rob

thanks rob and you don’t sound condescending. inspiring people with possibilities myself is not exactly paying the fucking rent at the moment, so the art store it is. [sorry, swearing a lot. tired. i’m off to bed.]

see you tomorrow NP, rob m and the rest of the northern kids!

Comment by lauren

How about doing a focus group with homeless people. I think Lauren and Marcus have both already suggested tip top ideas. But before running off and solving the problem. Lets define the problem. I’m happy to moderate.

Comment by Charles Frith

I’ve been thinking around the address idea. I have to admit that I find it quiet hard to build on (because I have a sneaky suspicion that the legals around it are huge) but I’ve had a go and would be interested in some feedback.

Obviously the idea of adopting a person, especially a grown person is difficult, but what if you could adopt/guardian something that belongs to the people we are trying to help.

What if they owned a letterbox.

For a fee (that would cover the costs of the box) guardians could give the people we are trying to help their letterboxes an address.

The Letterboxes would be managed by either the local church, the local “Shelter” organisation or even (although I think there could be problems with this) the local Police Station (“collection points”).

The guardians would hang/display/position the letterboxes outside their homes, and the name of the “owner” would be clearly marked on the letterbox so that the postman knows where to put the letters.

The letterboxes are locked. And only the person in need has this key to it (this is really important – empowerment).

The letterboxes are collected each Sunday (they are either collected or brought in by the guardians) and are available for the letterbox owners who can than collect their mail.

Does that makes sense? Would it be easier/cheaper/more effective just to have a bunch of letterboxes at what I’ve called “collection points”?

Comment by Marcus

Good idea.
Like I mentioned earlier, its a little like Mail Boxes Etc but for homeless people; your idea gets to the heart of that.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

In thinking about who could be guardians, I’ve also started to think about what we need the address for; getting a job and getting a home we’ve already identified but what about getting a bank account?

I’m thinking along the lines of doubling up the idea – by this I mean aligning it up to particular guardians the actually effect and influence one or all of the obstacles that are faced. We’ve already talked about some:

Banks and bank accounts
Employers and jobs
Estate Agents and homes
Police criminal records and personal references.

Could the letter boxes be the central or “physical” part of some kind of corporate HUMAN responsibility programme?

Comment by Marcus

I can’t help but feel all these issues are linked to the address situation … and while there are other vital factors like cleanliness and confidence to get a grip on … the address seems to be the central point to people not getting a job, a bank account and a future.

I love the mail box thing … love it … and we have our lawyer looking at the legal implications though he has already indicated the Church option might be the simplest, easiest, cheapest and most effective.

Thank you so much for doing all this … please keep going as we want to get things happening relatively soon.

Comment by Rob

I’m very keen to be involved in anything relating to this, for the record. This whole issue weighs on my mind every day. I go out my way to acknowledge these people and ask them how their day is etc – they are one of us most certainly.

The Big Issue was and still is an amazing concept and it makes me think about those free newspapers people now throw in our faces in the morning – who runs them and why aren’t they making money for the homeless instead. Or why isn’t the Big Issue learning from them and becoming more newsy and free and funded by advertisers. Naive questions perhaps as I’m new to London and not sure how it all works, but can we help the Big Issue work harder.

In Sydney I always wanted to set up an ‘adopt’ system whereby we each helped out one person, but wondered how you’d ‘tag’ that person and any thoughts around that area seemed quite crass and horrible. But the help that could come from having ‘your’ person to aid would be enormous.

I love the police thought, the shop concept and the temping idea. In Sydney our apartment block paid a ‘local’ homeless man to take out our garbage each week and generally tidy up afterwards, return the bins, etc. He felt useful, trusted and wanted – he became a caretaker of sorts which was hugely empowering for him. And he also go to know all of the residents and have a ‘base’ of sorts. We got to know him better, and got to be more aware of the nights that he might not have gotten into a shelter or might not have eaten. He is an alcoholic and we got to understand him more and know when to give him space and when not to. Things like this are invaluable. I wonder whether that kind of thing can become more commonplace, relating to houses or apartment blocks or even streets. Just a rambling thought.

Comment by Angus

I understand why we dont necessarily want to give homeless people default low paid basic work that other people dont want to do… but if that gives them even just a little bit of self worth then I think it is still worth persuing as an idea.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Angus … I am so glad you’ve written because I have always found you so smart and wanted to hear what you were thinking and am so glad I now know.

It’s a situation with no one single answer – but for this to be effective, we need to focus on one particular solution and accept it will only achieve a small part of the bigger picture.

I love what you say about Big Issue learning from the free newspapers and I love the fact your building helped a guy … but we have to make sure we don’t end up finding homeless people the lowest-common-denominator job [not that I am saying this is what you did] because that actually will lower their confidence and self esteem rather than build on it.

Comment by Rob

But will it? Selling magazines on the streets is pretty lowest denominator, but just working seems to improve the confidence of homeless people. I think its worth looking into before we write off menial jobs, as starting points they may be far more useful than you think. E.g.: Do a basic job well and they can be moved up to something more fulfiling. That will help employers with trust issues as you will have evidence they can perform work reliably.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Forging some sort of agreement between organisations – such as the temp agencies mentioned above, and major employers – would seem to be crucial; some sort of ratification about someone’s behaviour and reliability (because this, I think, is partly what prevents more homeless people from being employed).

Thinking about the social group of the homeless, and all the many subdivisions – what about those people who have mental problems that have either caused them to be homeless/unemployed?

Allying with a major medical practice would seem to make sense in this instance, but I’m not sure quite which one, to be honest.

Just a few thoughts, anyway..

Comment by Will

The difference between selling the Big Issue and cleaning streets is that they are in control of their destiny with Big Issue – it’s like their own small business – whereas cleaning streets is under the eye of a ‘supervisor’ … a supervisor who may not appreciate their fragile state/circumstances.

This is not to say that unless they have high powered jobs, they should not be employed at all … its just accepting that these people already feel invisible and giving them jobs which still make them feel invisible is probably only fulfilling the financial side of what needs to be done – not the emotional.

Comment by Rob

Possibly so (though I do still think having any job will help them feel like they have a role in society again), but if you use it as a stepping stone to get them back into the idea of working, to test their reliability, and also to convince employers they are worthwhile/reliable workers (which is almost certainly going to be the hardest bit).

Comment by Rob Mortimer


Then you can move them more easily into more rewarding work.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hi Rob. How silly of you to think I’m smart 🙂 Sweet though.

I do agree with Rob Mortimer that we shouldn’t discount all jobs that sound menial because some can still make people feel useful and needed and be a first rung on a ladder. In addition, the example I used from Sydney was so much more to this guy than street cleaning for example – he was the caretaker and felt incredibly valued and most importantly trusted which is a key element. Being part of something can still be menial. But I agree Big Issue has the added element of being a ‘business’ which they feel part of which is invaluable. It also gives them credibility in the eyes of others as it is ‘organised’ and it seems as though someone has ‘approved’ them – “they couldn’t have gotten that job if they didn’t deserve it”.

It may well be that solving the ‘invisible’ element is done more through attitudes of others rather than by the job per se. But it would be great to achieve both.

I agree that we have to treat these people with respect and not give them the ‘shit’. But there is an argument to say that if, as a bizarre and extreme and not quite right example, the homeless people got behind cleaning litter (a VERY menial task), the people would get behind the homeless people and they could well become heroes of sorts…

Comment by Angus

Mr M, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

Imagine you are homeless. There’s a damn large chance you feel completely rejected by society, and distrust it.

But, coupled with this, you are proud. You’re doing this, and you don’t want to have a job you perceive to be a handout – a job you believe to be menial – because it’s insulting to you.

What then?

(Sorry mate – but I think this helps, and for the most part I think you are right).

Comment by Will

Instead of blanking them, people will grow to respect them because they make a difference. Individually it might be small contributions but together they can earn the respect of everyone.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Well thats always going to be a risk. But if you can get their trust, and genuinely say that this job is the first rung on a ladder that will hopefully take them to much more rewarding and fulfilling places then I think many would try it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

(1st post above to Angus)(2nd post to Will)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

a caretaker has real responsibility.
a road sweeper doesnt.
a caretakers work is generally noticed.
a road sweepers often isnt.
a caretaker has some respect.
a road sweeper rarely achieves it.
a caretaker has a name.
a road sweeper is invisible.

Comment by andy@cynic

And I want to change that perception of road sweepers, just as much as I want to help the homeless, by the way. John, the guy, in Sydney, simply took our rubbish out. But because he had keys to do so and we saw him every couple of days, he felt like a caretaker. And became one.

Comment by Angus

It’s not we’re right … you’re wrong … it’s just I’d like this to be about helping others to help themselves rather than giving jobs we wouldn’t want to do because we know they’ll be grateful given they’re so desperate.

I know you’re not literally suggesting that … but these people want to get a job and believe they can if the legal/professional issues can be overcome – hence the suggestion of giving them an address they can be registered to as most organisations insist on this prior to giving them a job.

In Brian’s case, he had a job offer but it was dependent on having a formal address and because he couldn’t offer them that [and didn’t have money for lodgings] the job passed him by and another person became a victim of the poverty/red-tape trap.

[Actually I was able to help Brian so now he is up and running, but there’s too many people and too little time … we HAVE TO HELP!]

Comment by Rob

Good on you Angus … but you know what I/Andy mean don’t you? It’s more about perception – both of the person and the people looking at them.

You’re right, roadsweepers are another category of pre-judged individuals and what fucks me off the most is the difference between them and me [and I am not being dramatic here, I believe it] is luck, support and confidence.

Comment by Rob

I agree. But im not suggesting we give them these jobs because they will be grateful; but because they prove to employers who may otherwise be sceptical/worried that these homeless people ARE good workers. Without such a stepping stone I fear many will be reluctant to get involved…

I think this and the address issue are different but related.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

More ideas please.

Comment by Marcus

Of course it’s not a right/wrong thing. And I totally agree about it never wanting to come across as a ‘hey, we don’t want to do this shit, you do it’ and I also totally agree about wanting to give them the basic things they need (that we take for granted) to get a job. A reference, an address, a bank account and some clean clothes. I’m all for that.

There are many people in Brian’s situation, and many people in John’s situation.

Let’s focus on the Brian objective then, and another time, another day, or even another group of people, we can focus on the other pathway Rob M and I were talking about. Making ‘shit’ stuff good. And valuable.

I will put my thinking cap on…

Comment by Angus

You’re right Marcus … this is one of those ‘agree-but-disagree’ moments and we should focus on identifying a simple idea that we can ‘own’ that fundamentally helps the homeless take back control of their life through the ability to gain self respect and paid employment.

Comment by Rob

I wonder if you could actually do a deal with MBE (Mail Boxes Etc). It would give businesses a physical address to communicate to the homeless person. Maybe MBE could provide discounted rates and we get funding to cover the rest.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Post office system is under threat, homeless who collect benefit do so from post offices. Therefore have mailboxes at post offices to give more social meaning to post office subsidies and to make it convenient for people to access their mailboxes.

Comment by John Dodds

I like that John … I like that a lot … but are there enough Post Offices even around in the UK anymore? I’m not being a smartarse, I genuinely don’t know …

Comment by Rob

Hello all,

Pardon me for jumping in but I saw this link on Marcus’ site and have found the discussion really inspiring. If I am repeating what someone else said — ignore me. I tried to catch all the nuances but there’s 70+ replies!

Two thoughts.

First — sure, there are some who don’t want help or who are suspicious. You do what you can do for those you can help. So, help the ones who want and welcome the help. The proud and the skeptical will come along in time. Or not. But help those who are ready.

Second — I love the mailbox idea. But, when people are trying to schedule interviews or communicate that someone is being considered for a job, don’t they usually call? Could you have someone (maybe the homeless man shifts to earn a little money and help pay for their mailbox) answer a common phone, so that everyone could give out that number when they apply for jobs?

Great ideas. I hope it shifts to great action.


Comment by Drew McLellan

Hi Drew, I love the “voicemail for the homeless” concept, I really like the practicality of it but we still need to find a way to get the homeless a “fixed address” because at the very least, it helps them get some benefits which could help them start moving forward. This is not to crap on your idea because I genuinely love it, it’s just we need to focus on the fact that for many of these people, the reason they can’t get a job is not because of capability, but legality.

Comment by George

if having a physical address is actually the problem ,then the nearest church/police station/post office/NGO for the homeless sponsoring these people seems like a practical and workable idea.
But impact wise, something more radical like the virtual mailbox/ voicemail for the poor , in fact, using technology in any form to help the poor seems to have the greatest chance of reaching the most number of needy people.
Especially the Net, if the internet could revolutionize the way people communicate and do business all over the globe in a matter of a decade ,it might be our best option .
Of course keeping illiteracy in mind we would have to work out some speech recognition and easy to operate interface for technology first…

Ooof , sorry Rob, it a complex problem …like someone already said ,maybe one single idea won’t work and many small ideas (if implemented consistently over time )might make the difference .

Comment by Veena

16,000 apparently but another 2500 earmarked for closure apparently.

To be crass, though, the majority of homeless are urban and the closure of smaller post offices is probably less problematic than it might appear.

Comment by John Dodds

However, fraud potential isn’t.

Comment by John Dodds

Hey George and all,

No worries. Even if you were crapping on my idea, it’s not the first time that’s happened.

I wasn’t suggesting the voice mail as an alternative to the perm. address or mailbox. I was just suggesting adding the permanent shared phone number as an “add on” to what you’re already talking about doing.


Comment by Drew McLellan

I still think its time to ask some homeless people about what is important. We’re just pampered middle class problem solvers until otherwise. Maybe a public shower with a letter box. I’m being flippant but its time to ask.

Comment by Charles Frith

charles.. i presume that’s what we’re doing after lunch tomorrow then?

Comment by lauren

Sure thing Lauren. No time like the present.

Comment by Charles Frith

I’m happy to be involved in asking, I think it’s a great idea Charles.

Comment by Angus

can we make sure we know what were asking or were going to end up with a billion fucking answers and no clear outcome to act upon. remember all this came from rob talking to someone in this situation, hes not some middle class daily mail reading wanker that decided what the issue was. well he is a middle class wanker but he doesnt read the daily mail and he never forms a view without getting real and independent info. fuck im being protective of him arent i, hope you remember this campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Dear Robert, I was told about your website by a friend of mine and am very interested in what you are trying to do.
You are correct in your claim that most homeless people are victims of terrible circumstance and have a desire to work but fall foul of certain government and employment protocol and your idea certainly sounds viable to me.
I sit on a cross religion council, where representatives of all major international relgions meet in a bid to find ways to work together and I was wondering if you would contact me on the email I entered when writing this message, so we can discuss how we can all help.
I am very impressed you and your friends on this website are so keen to do something and I look forward to hearing from you soon. God bless. Carl

Comment by Rev Carl Jackson

Lauren and I thought it might be useful to set up a separate blog for this. Nothing fancy but easier to navigate than hundreds of comments.

Comment by Charles Frith

Hi Charles, as Rob is probably up in the sky right now I just thought you should know he is in the process of setting up human_2 websites, logos, bank accounts etc but if you and Lauren would like to set up a blog in the meantime (and it makes perfect sense to do so), that would be wonderful and he can sort out how / where to re-direct people once all the elements have been finalised, including what exactly human 2 is going to be lobbying for.

I believe Rob is intending to fly to the UK to meet Carl Jackson and see what he and his team think would be the best thing to make human_2 effective, but if you have any comments or suggestions I know Rob would be very eager to hear them.

On behalf of Rob, thank you, I know your involvement means a hell of a lot to him.

Comment by George

Rob, I hope I got the information I passed on to Charles correct and if I didn’t I apologise. Call when you land in Australia.

Comment by George

Hello George, I am assuming you are a friend or associate of Robert Campbell’s however I thought I should inform you we have not yet made contact with eachother but intend to speak on the telephone this coming Tuesday. I hope this clarifies the situation as it now stands. God bless, Carl.

Comment by Rev Carl Jackson

Thank you for that and I look forward to hearing what was discussed and / or decided on Tuesday.

Comment by George

This is a truly wonderful initiative, one that can make a huge difference where it really matters and is felt the most.

Rob, count me in. I would really like to help make this a success. And it will be if only a single homeless person out there is given a chance to a better life and a brighter future.

Some great ideas on this post to work on. More to come…

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Hi George. OK cool. Just throwing ideas into the pot but glad to hear you guys have thought of dedicated blog too.

Comment by Charles Frith

Andy, no-one is assuming this hasn’t been thought through, no need to be protective, we all have good intent 🙂

Comment by Angus

you know how i am charles, i start arguments in fucking convents. can i swear with religious people on this site? maybe putting a 🙂 will work like it does with robs mum. lets fucking hope so.

Comment by andy@cynic

oh fuck, that last comment of mine was for angus not charles. you know how i am angus, i could start a fight in a library yadda, yadda, yadda

Comment by andy@cynic

OMG Andy has admitted to making a mistake. This wonderful homeless idea has brought out Andy’s gentle side and I like it. Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

It’s difficult to not admire the intent of this post and all of its follow ups but it is striking how quickly some of the comments have degenerated into a sort of middle-class paternalism. Will *they* all want to be street sweepers? Or perhaps some of them might get *proper* jobs.
As so many of the comments have stated, what we’re talking about here are people (like us) who for some combination of reasons have fallen out of the systems and conventions which our society creates. And every single person who is in that position will be in it for a different reason, and will get out of it in a subtly different reason.
I don’t think there’s a magic cure out there. We won’t solve it with one great idea brought to life by mass action. It’s not like trying to stop Tesco getting planning permission for their new superstore.
Two things seem obvious, that a dramatic change is required in how we all act (as individuals and companies) towards people suffering at the margins of our society; and that we will solve this problem by rescuing one person at a time.
I remember a great Spitting Image sketch from when I was a kid where the premise was that for years, a secret corporation had been paying people to laugh at Dennis Norden’s jokes. Do you remember him? He presented ‘It’ll be alright on the night’ for years, doing the filler bits between the clips of actors falling over and screwing up their lines, never saying anything funny but always getting a laugh.
In the Spitting Image sketch, they stopped paying the audience at a particular point in time, leaving Norden doing crap one liners to deathly silence.
Isn’t the problem we’re describing a bit like that? For years we’ve all observed the problem and allowed ourselves to ignore it. We don’t ignore it because we don’t care. We ignore it because we don’t know what to do. It all seems so huge, the problems so diverse and persistent.
But, if we saw one of our family, or one of our colleagues suffering like that, we’d know what to do. We’d find out what was wrong and we’d do anything that was necessary to help.
Do we need the same cut off?
If all the offers of help posted here are genuine then let’s – each one of us, privately and in our roles in corporations – STOP walking past, STOP the processes that build in to our society the practices that re-enforce this exclusion. But it’s not magic, it wouldn’t be easy and – like helping any friend in need – it’s a proper huge commitment, not one we should make in any way lightly.
If it’s just me, then the next person I see, I should stop and ask what I can do to help. Can I lend them my address to receive mail? Can I stop my everyday with food? Can I cough up a couple of quid a day for the showers at Paddington or Kings Cross, can I help explain a social security form, or help them to find the nearest AA meeting… whatever. I’m not talking about this bizarre idea of “sponsoring a homeless person”, I’m talking about just saying – at some point – we will not let this continue, we will not keep walking past. Who amongst us will sign up for that?

Comment by tomhopkins

The only problem is a lot of people will say “But what if I cant then help them?”

However, you are definitely right that the key is getting people to stop the exclusion of the homeless. To start bringing them one by one back into society.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hmmm, yes, great post. Great cause. Great idea.

Maybe I missed this while scanning the comments: there is no mentioning of CRISIS.

THE organisation which exactly tackles the problems you are thinking to solve.
They take several actions to help people off the street, but there is a more important issue, than giving them an address… They identified a much bigger problem than the actual homeless people you see outside on the street. In reality there are much more homeless people, they are just hidden away.

They say: ‘Homelessness remains a national scandal

Whilst the government have succeeded in reducing the numbers of people sleeping rough and tackling the problem of families living in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation, there is one group whose numbers continue to grow. These are the single hidden homeless.

Crisis estimates that there are as many as 380,000 hidden homeless people in the UK today languishing in temporary hostels, B&Bs and squats with nothing to do. Many are trapped in an endless spiral of despair and experiencing repeated episodes of homelessness.

* If homeless once, there is more than a 50% chance of becoming homeless again
* 63% of homeless people have been homeless more than once
* 35% have been homeless between three and ten times
* 81% are currently living on benefits
* 57% have been unemployed for more than three years’

Their solution: A campaign called ‘Weapons of Mass instruction’ (yeah it’s a bad pun) – a initiative to teach these people the skills to get back into a normal life.

It’s well worth a read. Check out

Fighting for hope for homeless people –
Fighting against hidden homelessness –

In my opinion, whatever you do, you should talk to these guys, get them involved, they know the problem, unite with them, and make the world a better place.


Comment by Waldemar

ps. I know an ad won’t help much to solve this issue, but that’s a storyboard we did on placement at iris on this topic. it get’s the issue across. never got made though.

Comment by Waldemar

Sorry for the delay in responding to this, I’m in the middle of nowhere in the state of Victoria – and because my internet access is rather shakey, I’ll get straight to the point …

Tom … I will DEFINITELY sign up for what you are talking about and I think [hope] many of the people on this blog will do the same.

Of course maintaining this passion is going to be one of the key issues but that is why my intention is to create a company/organisation that’s puropse is to do this on an on-going basis and so far, I’ve had some very interesting conversations with people who can/will/want to make this happen, inc Rev Carl Jackson [More info as I get it]

It won’t change the World for the homeless, but if it can change the future fate for a few people, as far as I am concerned, it’ll be worth it – and I know that’s a cliche, but it’s true.

And this leads to Waldemar’s comment about Crisis.

I am already talking to them [as well as trying to make contact with 3 other charitable organisations operating in the ‘homeless area’] about how we can work together to instigate a bigger, longer-lasting change.

There are already many charities out there and unless we find a way to work/help eachother, the potential of making a lasting difference will be limited – which is why my goal for human_2 is not to raise money [at least not initially] but to focus on identifying practical methods that will allow the homeless to get back in control of their life rather than …

[1] telling them what their life should be


[2] getting them to do things we don’t want to do or pay too much to do

… which is why to me, the Church letterbox / Police References seem so powerful in their potential because they can overcome key barriers homeless people face in being able to get a job that lets them move ahead.

Will these things change the World? Of course not … there’s lots of things we need/want to do … but focusing powerfully on a couple of key areas [areas that don’t require financial support from the public] is going to be effective both interms of publicity/lobbying and execution.

PS: Thanks for the link, love it.

Comment by Robert

Rob … don’t know if you have seen this. Amazing.

What I like about this approach is that it helps to create a community and sense of belonging for people who are disadvantaged and/or homeless. By doing so it engenders a sense of purpose and helps at least some of these people to begin the process of transforming their lives.

Comment by Gavin Heaton

Hey Rob

Have just come across this via Marcus. Great cause… will have a think today and attempt to add something of value to the discussion – sorry for not joining the debate sooner


Comment by doug


I know for a fact that parallel to the “no-address barrier” to getting a job, in many instances there is also the barrier of having black teeth with its socially alienating impact (professionally and privately). Not all homeless people have this problem but many have been living on the streets, unemployed for years. Oral hygiene and dentist appointments haven’t exactly been top priorities.

I think it would be a good idea to involve companies in the dentistry/oral care industry to sponsor human_2. Restoring white and bright smiles will dramatically improve the chances for many homeless to re-enter society and STAY in it. I couldn’t give a toss if they do it for selfish publicity reasons as long as it can help those in need.

I remember reading an article about “the black teeth barrier” in Situation Stockholm, a magazine by the homeless for the homeless. Homeless people sell it on the streets of Stockholm and get to keep the money. It’s a job; the first step back to a life in dignity. This is a concept that could probably be successfully duplicated in potentially any city. And I believe the idea is alive and well in several cities around the world in various forms.

Parallel to helping homeless help themselves by providing some fundamental things, I actually think advertising can play a role in talking specifically to employers’ hearts and minds, making them aware of the reality of the homeless and encouraging them to reach out by offering jobs to the homeless.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Just to add to that…I think it’s right to focus on the address issue as a first priority. There are so many issues to solve and the human_2 initiative will be more effective with a focused effort.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Better to solidly tackle one problem than slightly tackle several.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Ok having tracked this for a few days I thing we need to get somethings in perspective:

1. While I agree with you Rob that no single idea is going to solve the ‘homeless’ problem, I think there’s merit if the idea was modular and codified to some extent so we can all take it to other places, I say this mainly because I come from a country where there are probably more homeless people than there are people with homes in most parts of the world

2. The best way to take this forward is to actually hold a brainstorm session with a bunch of homeless people (or those who have come out of it like the Choir), while Charles has suggested a focus Group, I think a session focussed on solutions would be far more productive and would start with at least giving that bunch hope. And to avoid the problem of a million ideas with no focus as Andy highlights, we can keep the discussion focused on solutions that help them help themselves.

3. Naive as this may sound, but it seems to me that the ones in most need of a campaign are the homeless themselves, it needs to tell them to not loose hope and send in any thoughts they may have and even an enumeration of any skills they may posses. Of course, this can’t be through mass media but probably through temp shelters and even a few homeless who are trained to be ambassadors.

From the Indian Independence struggle to the fight against apartheid, the single most powerful thing people like Gandhi and Mandela provided to the masses was hope. This was the foundation on which the movements took on a life of their own in the form of smaller struggles which together, and ultimately that is what helped in achieving the end goal of freedom – A million small mutinies, not one big one.

Comment by Hari

I got about 40 comments in to this post, and gradually ideas were forming. I apologise if this one has been raised in the 60 following.

I think in the charity world there is too much duplication. It’s inefficient – and it’s inefficient in a world where funds make the difference. There must be thousands of charities large and small that deal with homelessness – different aspects of homelessness. These already have expertise and an infrastructure that is required to be operational and do the good work. This infrastructure is expensive and time consuming and we should be looking at how we can be clever about what we have to contrribute to the problem in the most effective, and incidentally the most interesting and exciting and innovative way.

One thing all these organisations need is good ideas – and if you just read the first 40 comments of this post you get about as many as a consultancy company would charge a few thousand pounds for. My idea is to partner with a charity or charities that have the sharp front end to implement the aid and relief, and work with them free of charge as a collective brain to create and develop ideas and volunteer to some degree to flesh them out and help them to implement them. That allows us to do what we are good at doing and gives them a real advantage at the same time, and puts the job of delivery in their hands – which is what they are wearing the gloves for.

We basically act as a virtual creative consultancy, and look at how we can deliver more face to face, detailed, tangible work on an ad-hoc project basis where those who want to meet, travel, input face to face to the ‘client’ can do so.

Comment by TomLR

I like that Tom, but isn’t what you are suggesting very similar to typical agency pro-bono work?

Comment by George

The one thing which keeps jarring against me is a point Marcus raised about some people not wanting help.

How (without pissing people off) would it be possible to target those who are most in need of help and want it?

Any suggestions for a system to find that out, or do you all think it would be self-evident if we say did the locker suggestion or partnered with the Church?

For what it’s worth, I think of all the ideas, partnering with local Churches is an incredibly good idea. There’s no hidden motivation there (which could be perceived with any partnership with a business).

It’s also a win-win. Churches regain the hearts and minds of the populace by doing actionable charity, homeless people get a measure of help.

My current 2 pence worth on the subject, anyway.

Comment by Will

I didn’t actutally say that Will. I said that we should develop ideas that people would WANT to be a part of. I said this:

“This issue is still, for me, empowerment. There are a number of things here which are unpleasant but still need to be discussed. In my experience people needing help are very suspicious of the help they are being offered; is it real help, is it genuine, am I being used?

I know it may sound strange but any idea we come up with needs to be something that people like Brain will actually WANT to be PART of. And this has nothing to do with laziness – far more to do with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake, fear of making a fool of themselves, fear of being found (this is a massive issue and should not be under estimated), fear of becoming a burden and a basic crippling fear of failure.

By wanting to help them, we become PART of there lives and that is a huge responsibility. The challenge is to empower them want to become and stay PART of ours.”

Comment by Marcus

Rob is going to the UK to meet some international multi religion society who seem quite interested in helping out with this idea.
And I’m not his PA, he’s on the phone and I’m waiting to talk. 🙂

Comment by George

oh, and good man Tom.

Comment by Marcus

Good ideas. If the church don’t want to be a prt of it though, I dont think there is anything wrong with partnering with businesses. Even if they do it for the wrong reasons…if it has the right results surely its worth it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Pardon me Marcus for mis-referencing you.

I still wonder about the Church suggestion though, which Mark brought up. Whether homeless people would want to be involved in that.

I think it’s a good idea.

Comment by Will

Might need to give the project itself a lack of religious involvement, and have the church accept that it is getting publicity and a sense of a good deed.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

The beauty of the Church concept is that they would literally act as an “address”, nothing more nothing less.
Because of that I am confident there would be no stigma attached for the homeless to get involved, especially as we would be initially focused on helping the individuals who want to work but can’t for legislation reasons.
There are lots of other ideas, I think this one is of particular interest as it involves minimal investment and can truly help someone help themselves rather than be seen as dictating values upon them.
Time for me to talk now so I am going to stop looking on this blog and do some work, unlike my lovely partners. 🙂

Comment by George

‘…..I like that Tom, but isn’t what you are suggesting very similar to typical agency pro-bono work?…’

Yes – it is – because that’s what you lot are good at delivering – you’re from agencies (of varying sorts I imagine) – and so best qualified to provide that sort of consultancy help – which is what charities would appreciate best – leaving them to do what they do best – and adding value to an existing infrastructure as opposed to getting a bunch of amateurs setting up a whole load of new arrangements that duplicates what’s already there and stands a greater chance of failure.

As regards ‘pro bono’ – doesn’t that imply that there’s a reciprocity of some sort ? (Which is what leads to the prick in the conscience of many CSR programmes & their input into publicity campaigns of corporates) I don’t see what we’re getting out of this project other than feeling that we’re doing some good. We don’t really have a ‘corporate-ness’ to promote, do we ? That’s one of the beauties of it’s being a social network.

That’s an extremeley blunt devil’s advocate answer and means no disrespect to anyone. I think the ideas are great – and this is a very worthy thing that I’d like to participate in.

Comment by TomLR

Fair point Tom, and you’re right, the aim of this is to help, not to get any return benefit. It’s charitable socialism rather than corporate backhanded consideration.

Comment by George

But who cares anyway, as long as people get pillows ?

Comment by TomLR

pillows, peace, confidence and hope.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sorry for butting in, but this isn’t about pillows is it? I thought the aim was to help those who seek work get round the issues that often stop them succeeding.


Comment by Jemma King

yes jem, youre right

Comment by andy@cynic

…and I thought it was about getting people off the streets.

The fact is – and this has been mentioned before – that the only solution that will work for THEM, (apologies for the capitalisation) and in the LONGER TERM is some sort of integrated solution. People living in all sorts of deprived conditions need self esteem, empowerment, specific solutions (like pillows), and addresses. They need to experience some sort of happiness, contact, stimulation. They need triggers to break cycles and then patterns that keep them off the cycles too. These solutions can be delivered through all sorts of channels, and using all sorts of instruments both direct and indirect. My place of work uses art and music as healthcare provision as part of a wider package, for example.

Maybe we need some clarity on the objective ?

Comment by TomLR

Tom, I’m really happy you’ve broken your silence on this. Your experience is going to be hugely valuable to Human_2 and I would strongly suggest that you and Rob catch up for a chat when he’s in the UK.

People, we really should listen to Tom on this, he’s way closer to this than you could ever imagine.

Well done Tom.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Well, thanks Marcus – I’m flattered. Don’t go to my blog however as you’ll just think I’m a twat.

And if I DO work in the relevant sector, and am closer to the problem (and please DON’T quote me as an expert or expect me to know what the answers are)..maybe this makes others’ ideas BETTER ones in this context.

Comment by TomLR

i feel like i don’t have much to contribute on this one still, but please keep up the good work everyone!!

Comment by lauren

Tom … first of all thank you for your comments, having someone with experience in this ares is great however [isn’t there always one of those] this is not about getting all homeless people off the streets, it’s about – at least initially – focusing on a particular subset of homeless person who can’t get a job because legal government legistlation stops potential employers from hiring them.

No one can solve a mass issue with a ‘one size fits all’ approach because not only is everyone’s personal situation/circumstances different, you have to be mindful you’re not dictating your personal values upon others … however Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was built bit by bit, day by day – so if we can do a few little things, it might add up being bigger and better things which – with with a big dose of luck, hope and perseverence – can start to make a real difference to those you wish to aid.

With human_2, I know we will not be solving the situation for all and I know we won’t ever truly attack the ’cause’ [there’s too many reasons for that] … but I truly believe if we focus our attention on this one particular group of the homeless, we can effectively help them – be it via a fixed address for employers to register the person or a police referece or any other idea people come up with that is both effective and requires minimal investment/charitable donations.

If this proves to be successful then maybe we can move onto another segment of the homeless who have different issues that are stopping them move forward, but initially – I feel focus is better than a scattergun approach and I have been talking to others who work in the same segment as you for their advice … it’s not some middle-class knob just wanting to feel good without actually being effective.

I do appreciate your comments [and will seek more, if this comment hasn’t pissed you off forever 🙂 ] but I belive there is a focus on what human_2 is going to try and achieve and while you may not agree it is the best, it’s better than doing nothing.

Comment by Rob

i can picture the exact facial expression you had when you were typing that last comment. fucking scary.

Comment by andy@cynic

OK – whatever, let’s do it – brilliant. Let’s go. I’m in.

Comment by TomLR

Well that’s agreed then … good.

Now Tom, where the hell are you located as I have to meet some multi-religion representatives in London soon and if you’re anywhere near there, maybe we can meet up? I can buy you a cup of tea. Yes, I am that giving. Ahem.

Comment by Rob

I could get to London quite easily. I live very near to the multi – religion representatives too, as luck would have it. However, I don’t drink tea Rob. Can we overcome this obstacle ? I like lager.

Comment by TomLR

rob, i had a good chat tonight (after a shit afternoon and before my ipod got nicked) with a gal who works for an org that focuses on innovative solutions to social probs and is interested in checking out what you’re up to with human_2. i’ll email you the deets and you can tell her about it. i explained a bit of it, but i expect that you’ll do a much better job of it.

Comment by lauren

Tom … lager it is, though you’ll have to sit next to a bloke who doesn’t drink at all, is that OK? Let me find out when they want to meet and then we can take it from there – alot depends on a phonecall I’m having with them on Monday.

And Lauren … I am so sorry about your iPOD, where did it happen? You must be being left with such a great impression of your Mother Country [acknowledging the UK still ‘owns’ Australia] The girl/lady/woman you mention sounds tops so please send her email through [hoping your laptop hasn’t been stolen before you do it] and let me know how you’re going, you have stopped swearing, stopped being angry … are you eating alright???

Comment by Rob

Erm OK. What about tequila then ?

Comment by TomLR

I just wanna throw a quick idea at you with regards to the homeless thing of yours (and i do not mean it disrespectfully , like it sounds)

I saw a doco on TV last night about paparazzi … and you had this guy who had former homeless men on his pay roll, making good money because they knew how live on the streets that they could take pics from spots normal paparrazi did not know were there.

So this got me thinking …

1) make the homeless paparrazi
2) use their skills to be urban police (with a mobile phone and camera you can get alot of things done)
3) alternative tourist guides

I am also playing with an idea of creating onine persona’s for homeless, give them a face.

It would involve the web establishing rules for getting an online i.d. without the physical constraints of real life … but the idea is, that if you exist online, you exist offline … something like that, I am not quite there yet in my thinking.

Comment by Rob [From An Email Sent To Me By A[P]SOTW Member, Niko]

Interesting idea.

I cant believe I havent mentioned Nobby. He lives in a bus shelter in Peterborough and is famous in the city. He actually chose to stay there after a while, which shows how important respect and pride can be in this situation.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I remember when I was growing up in Nottingham there was a tramp who looked evil but was really a gentle giant.

When he died, the local paper reported the story [as he was such local institution] and apart from thousands of pounds being donated by readers so he could have a proper funeral, hundreds of people turned up for the burial.

I don’t think this sort of thing would really happen again but too be honest I don’t understand why … maybe it’s because back when I was a kid, it seemed there were less homeless people on the streets [which just can’t be true] so we formed a weird sort of relationship with them … but whatever the reason, it’s fucking bollocks people only take notice when the person has gone – which leads to another post I have to write, ‘why saying I love you should be prescribed by doctors’

Comment by Rob

Im sure Nobby has a back story that people identified with, andthey respected his bravery and self respect in a difficult place.

Im sure there are stories of him helping out people in trouble on the streets and so on.

But the point is. People treat him like a human being because he has a face and a story. If we could get a tenth of that for other homeless people we would make a huge difference.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Yep … I like where Niko is coming from and Charles had a similar idea with the whole ‘reality television’ show – which he actually managed to stop turning into an exploitive concept. Whataguy! Talking to the bigwigs of the Religious Council next week [Rev Carl Jackson] so hope we can start moving this from words to actions very, very soon!

Right, I’m going home – long week and next week is going to be huuuuuuuuuuuge, hahaha!

Have a good one …

Comment by Rob

What about a book.
A book of the stories of 20-30 homeless people, the proceeds of which go towards the project/other homeless charities.

That would not only give them a face, it would raise money, and after they read it they would hopefully feel a bit more compassion toward other homeless people they see.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hey Rob – let me know if / when you’ll be around in London and want to meet up for that coffee – you can reach me on :


Comment by TomLR

Will do mate … just waiting/working on dates that suit all parties.

And yes, I will buy you lager – not tea! Ha

Comment by Rob

Do I assume no one liked the book idea? As I thought it was quite a good one!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I tell you what I think of the book idea – off the top of my head and without research…..books don’t make money – but they DO tell stories and provide profile. In fact they COST quite a lot fo money. But I really like the STORIES angle – and this stories idea seems to be one that’s gaining some stickiness in blogs I’ve been reading recently (far be it from me to jump in the planning / comms world – it may be much more common than my awareness suggests)…but by STORIES I mean something more than just a photo and a bit of background – I mean some sort of narrative that’s compelling and enables not just an emotional involvement but also inputs into something specific relating to a particular initiative, or has specific action opportunities, or acheivable outcomes etc. I’m not sure what I mean by the last bit of this comment – it’s not just that I can’t articulate it…in my head at least it needs more work but maybe something for discussion.

So I like it – but for particular reasons, and I feel that maybe the format is a critical factor to look at.

Does that make SOME sense ?

Comment by TomLR

Absolutely. Thats very much the idea, to put the narrative of these people’s circumstances into a format where people will become emotionally involved without feeling forced to.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I also think you could mystery it to really get people to think about it:

“16 stories of lives turned upside down, which 8 are the real ones?”

That makes them want to analyse the details and understand the people.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

There you go, you see. You lot are clever.

Comment by TomLR

Came across this. I think there’s something in it.

Comment by charlesfrith

Tom’s right – books don’t make cash, but they can make an emotional impact so yeah, I do like the idea alot. I think the things we need to do is work out a plan of attack based on such things as speed, effectiveness and investment needed – because we have tons of great ideas, we just need to make sure our initial efforts are focused on the ones that can happen/address the core issue [or as core as we can see it] ASAP.

I love you lot … thank you, it means so much but not as much as we will hopefully be able to do for some others. [That wasn’t meant to be as preachy as it sounded. Sorry]

Comment by Robert

How the hell did you find that Charles? It’s brilliant!

Comment by Rob

I little thought on the book idea.

What if it was set out as a sort of ‘make your own story’ book, which is losely based on the history of real homeless people. You know, like ‘if you spend the money you manage to collect on toothpaste rather than food go to page 27’

And you give lots of choices where you can be lazy and lots where you can be clever and pro-active. However the real red tape problems such as the lack of address always get in the way and put the reader in the real life cycle.

Then the ending, which eventually EVERYONE would skip to, has whatever the human_2 scheme eventually is taking place.

That way all the people who think they could get out of homelessness if it happens to them, because they are ‘clever’ or ‘driven’ or whatever learn about the problems by trying to prove they are better than them.

I know it’s not really on the subject of the main post, but just my random thinkings on the subject. Would probably be more widely read as a pdf or something.

Comment by Dave Mortimer

I think that would make a great promotional tool, an online game or booklet. My own thoughts originally was actually as an awareness and possibly money raising piece.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I like that Dave … I like it alot … we just have to put our core focus on what can make something happen regardless of external community/government support because to be honest, people are so de-sensitised to it, we can’t be reliant on it for our goals.

Keep it up though – this is all vital stuff too

Comment by Rob

Here’s another idea, somewhere up here was the mention of getting technology to help these people. What if we create a site along the lines of ‘FaceBook’ or ‘MySpace’ which essentially starts off by giving the homeless a virtual space where they can put up their picture and credentials and maybe even their story.

This site can then be promoted by all of us to organisations we know and work with so they can try and find candidates/ help or even offer services.

The core idea being that a virtual space is a good place to start with a very low investment and allows the homeless to have an identity built which they can refer people to, even if it’s virtual.

Comment by Hari

I like this idea … it’s similar to where Niko was heading … so now we have to make some of the bloody things happen, especially when you’ve read the subject matter of the massive post that’s going up tomorrow, ha!

Comment by Rob

I really like the Facebook idea. It takes a tool only available to the most tech – savvy and priveliged of folks (the use of and understanding of the internet and social networking) and really democratises it to the extremes – by giving it to people with no electricity never mind wifi broadband.

Comment by TomLR

Oh come on Tom … wifi is all around us isn’t it?

OK … OK … I know what you’re saying, but I don’t think Hari was suggesting this would CHANGE their situation, just humanise them to a society that treats them like they’re invisible.

The goal is to identify the ideas that can make a difference today … the ideas that can happen without needing huge investment and then as we go on, the other concepts can start to flow. I hope.

Comment by Robert

Nice idea Hari. Almost like starting a blog of homeless experiences.

Something like Postsecret, but with stories of real homeless people.

If we can help to humanize the homeless, it will go a long way towards changing the attitudes of peolpe, and therefore employers.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That’s right Rob M. Even if the site has the stories and details of only a few of the affected it would go a long way in changing perceptions.

And of course I am sure I can find at least 5 individuals who would willingly enter and post profiles of at least 3 people everyday. Neighbourhood cybercafes can also help with getting the people to access nets.

I think the assumption that all homeless people are ignorant and incapable of comprehending concepts like social networking is the biggest stumbling block to making this work. A great reason for Human_2 to exist is the presence and involvement of people with no biases and baggage about the homeless and their issues.

Comment by Hari

I think Tom’s biggest issue was the fact they can’t even get food, let alone access to the web – but the idea is good interms of humanising, but our core area has to be pragmatic ideas that help the homeless help themselves to a better life.

All ideas welcome though … 🙂

Comment by Robert

What if we took that idea and put it into local newspapers.

Create dedicated pages (ie: ads) with the stories of local people on the streets? That gives people a chance to actually understand the people they specifically walk past?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That’s pretty neat Rob M. It goes a long way towards the humanising bit Rob talks about. Starting to see the people you walk by as being similar to you but for certain circumstances is a great place to start. In fact just yesterday, here in Singapore, there was a report on how help, both in terms of free goods and employment offers, has poured in to the local newspaper in response to the coverage of a few struggling families who are living 12 persons to a room. It underscores the point that while people may ignore the homeless as they walk by, they probably do so because like with the initial comments here, on an individual basis there’s a dilema on where to start with helping. From the fear of insulting the person, to feeling helpless and even to the fear of finding out the person actually doesn’t want to be helped, there’s a lot of mental barriers in them taking the first step.

But the moment the homeless people they see are put in the context of people with specific problems, more are willing to offer their help because they are able to see more clearly the role they can play.

Maybe that can be the core focus of everything Human_2 does – Humanise the homeless.
That way we don’t get into the infrastructure area, which is probably where most organisations are already involved with the issue.

Comment by Hari

Well, Hari, on your last point..

At my former (sob) agency, we did some work on the notion of how people view and ‘other’ disabled people.

Essentially, we came to a very similar conclusion that you’ve just said. Every journal on the topic harks on about the notion of advocacy, of letting people speak for themselves, and providing a platform for it.

Rob M – I like that idea, but I’d get homeless people writing the stories themselves.

Comment by Will

I agree Will that they would write it, but we would present it in a way that felt like it was “an officially approved” story, rather than a letter type thing.

When you walk past John, knowing his house was repossesed after his wife got into gambling trouble; its much easier to say hi. And if we get just one in 100 people who walk past John saying “Hi John, hope you are well”; we will have done a HUGE service to him.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m a bit late to this post and I’ve only had the chance to read half of the great ideas, so sorry if I’m going over another similar idea.

I think whilst homelessness is a National problem you would have better chance of getting empathy at a local level. I’m thinking of a partnership with some caring hotel and B&B owners. It’s only a vague thought, but in return for picking up your post, your clean washing and getting a shower, you clean a room or a number of rooms during the quiet part of the week. It’s a bit like ‘chamber maiding’ for it I guess.

A large scale Travelodge network would be ideal, but I can’t see it feasibly working. I think it would work better with local B&B owners. At least then it will be more personal and more manageable – there would be a huge amount of trust needed. I don’t know the numbers, but if every B&B in the country helped one homeless person they would soon stack up. It might not be the best idea, but it doesn’t require much financial investment other than a good PR campaign run by local councils.

Comment by Carl

i quite like that idea carl. which could combine with local sports club rooms/stadiums. there are already showers/lockers and they’re not used that late after dark or that early in the morning. the homeless could have a shower, a locker and could sweep up the grandstands or maybe even sell popcorn during the games in return. their address could be care of the stadium/sports club/velodrome. sports companies (like adidas/puma) who sponsor big clubs/stars could also incorporate this into their sponsorship.

Comment by lauren

Hi Carl … thanks for stopping by and suggesting some stuff.

The problem we have is that in isolation we all say we want to help the homeless but when it ‘impacts’ our day-to-day life pressures/routine, we suddenly feel and act quite differently.

How many times have people even said ‘Hello’ to someone selling the Big Issue, let alone bought a copy?

How many times has someone walked faster as they saw a homeless person ahead of them?

How many times has someone conciously NOT made eye-contact when a stranger has said ‘HELLO’?

How many times has someone said “THEY’RE A PROFESSIONAL BEGGAR” when regardless of the fact, begging is hardly a great career with top benefits?

We’re all guilty – and yes, I definitely include me in this because had I not been tired and needing to stay awake for a long drive, I probably would not have helped Brian [[who I met at a service station and started this whole thing]

I hate to be a crushing bore because these some of these ideas [or the underlying concept behind the idea] are bloody fantastic and I am sure they could make a difference – but human_2 is – at least initially – going to be focused on helping homeless help themsleves to taking back control of their life.

Whether we do this by ultimately providing lockers, showers, a ‘home’ address, police report references, free college courses – is all to be decided … but its more than just ‘getting them off the street’ or ‘getting them noticed by society’ … even though they are vital and commendable acts … it’s about helping them to help themselves to a life with more confidence, self-respect and hope – which probably means focusing on elements where these individuals can get jobs again. Not shitty jobs that no one else wants to do – but real jobs, whatever they may be.

It’s not about us deciding what they should do – that’s up to them – its just about removing obstacles [physical and legal] that stops them achieving this.

Annnnnnnnd, because society is becoming ‘charity-immune’, my preference is to identify areas that will require minimum investment [ie: charity donations] because otherwise we stand even less chance of making something happen.

I know I sound harsh and I do want to thank and encourage people to continue bringing ideas – but this is more than just offering ‘comfort’ [even though that is being very generous with the word] its about injecting hope and empowerment into some homeless peoples lives.

Comment by Rob

Rob I really admire more your enthusiasm for this. I’m based on the south coast and there are problems in every town and City I’ve lived in from Brighton to Bournemouth. If I can be of assistance in these locations just shout.

But on some of your points….

I’m not sure that all of these ideas are offering comfort as such, but simply an opportunity that allow homeless people to help themselves? i.e. a postal address so they can apply for jobs and a shower so they can go to interviews looking and smelling OK. All of which do help them take back control of their lives, but I admit they don’t really empower and are probably a mere plaster on a larger problem. I guess they are really just scratching the surface of what Dave C would call social responsibility.

Rob, are you looking for an initiative that is self-sustaining like the Big Issue – something that could feasibly be run by homeless people from the ground up?

Most of the ideas mentioned could be developed to be self-sustaining. For example, the idea of a low cost hotel run by homeless/ex-homeless people has legs. Job roles could cover everything from ‘menial jobs’ such as cleaning, through to cooking, management, sales and marketing. For me ‘menial jobs’ shouldn’t be dismissed in ideas as long as there is some where for them to go. Whilst this may sound harsh, homeless people must also prove they deserve a helping hand and a hierarchy system might be a good way of being rewarded and developing trust. You could even include some kind of 3 strikes and you’re out system. So you start at the bottom and work your way to a position where you can leave and get into industry.

I think ideas like this would be perfect, but hard to get off the ground and require significant investment, probably from a middle class ‘do – gooder’ with some spare cash.

With regards to society being charity immune this is almost another issue. If I turn right out of my office I’ll be asked at least 3 times for money by someone who may or may not be deserving, if I turn left I’ll be swamped by people with clip boards and bright jackets getting paid £9 an hour to promote a charity they were only briefed on that morning. This doesn’t put me off Rob, but it’s not an easy task. Keep up the good work.

Comment by Carl

Hello Carl … first of all I do hope you took my comments in the manner they are meant. It’s not to piss you – or anyone else – off, it’s just that I am aware to make a massive difference requires oodles of time, money and people and [1] I just don’t have that [2] even then we’re not guarenteed success [3] it takes too long.

My view is that no one can solve a mass issue with a ‘one size fits all’ approach because as I think I said in a previous comment – not only is everyone’s personal situation/circumstance different, we have to be mindful we’re not dictating our personal values upon others … however Rome wasn’t built in a day – so if we can do a few little things, it might add up to bigger and better things which – with with a big dose of luck, hope and perseverence – can start going into some of the other top ideas that require at least an initial sizeable investment.

For what its worth, the self-run, self funding ‘cheap hotel’ is a fantastic idea and while it would cost money, maybe someone with oodles of cash would be interested – especially if they read this post I wrote ages ago …

Comment by Rob

Hi Rob,

No offence taken. I understand where you’re coming from. Looking forward to seeing where this goes

Comment by Carl

I love the hotel idea, it fucking rocks. Maybe Andy could dip into his millions and start it off?

Comment by Billy Whizz

‘…..I really like the Facebook idea. It takes a tool only available to the most tech – savvy and priveliged of folks (the use of and understanding of the internet and social networking) and really democratises it to the extremes – by giving it to people with no electricity never mind wifi broadband……’

I think my comment above may have been misinterpreted judging by the responses. I LIKE THE IDEA.

Comment by TomLR

ok, i’m letting go of showers and lockers.

rob – i’m going to sound like a complete fuckwit right now, but where are you at right now with all of this stuff? what’s on the table and where is it all headed? have you begun to delineate any of it?

Comment by lauren

Hi Lauren … I’m waiting on an appointment with Rev Carl Jackson so we can discuss the ‘Church Address’ concept – both interms of feasibility and interest.

I also have a meeting with an individual [who I can’t mention but is VERY well known in this sort of thing] about some initial funding so other ideas may be able to at least be seeded and then let the homeless take this on and sculpture it as they see fit.

We have registered all the finanacial and legal requirements – met with 3 charity organisations [for both advice and for potential link ups] and are in the process of working out who/what/where the central ‘office’ should be located – because to be honest, if we’re aiming to focus on the UK – having me in Asia isn’t exactly the most practical.

There are some things that could influence/change this but I can’t go into it now – but the core aim is to filter all ideas in the next few weeks and then get our Financial Director [ex-Amnesty] to arrange them in order of time-to-execute/cost/distribution.

Of course all will be run by you and anyone on this blog who is interested/wants to know … but while it might seem its slowed down, it’s only because of making sure we have some sort of foundation to move forward.

Oh and Tom … yes, we all did misinterpret your comment but it led to a good place I reckon so no harm done, ha!

Comment by Rob

Just listening to this podcast about the homeless.

Comment by charlesfrith

You’re a font of bloody everything Mr Charles!

I’m finally getting off my arse and writing to you today – I bet you’re a quiver of excitement eh, ha!

Comment by Rob

Wow, I have just found this post and have only had time for a quick skim read, but I am very impressed. I will have to come back for a better read before I comment, but it seems like you have some great ideas here.

In Dubai you don’t see homelessness as much as you do in other cities. Reading this post has reminded me of home, walking to or from work with an aching heart for all the people I passed with no home or job to go to.

This post has been an important reminder to me not to get too wrapped up in my own life, but to look around me.

Comment by Jade

Hi Jade … how are you? Hope all is well and I hope I can talk about what’s happening with this soon because things are – it’s just so bloody slow.

Comment by Rob

Hey Rob, I’m really well – busy, but well.

You know, while this issue is urgent, sometimes things do just have to take time. I could give someone a fiver and pat myself on the back, but this project is so much more than that.

Comment by Jade

Hey Rob,

not sure what’s happening on this front for you at the moment as the last comment was from August 2007, but I just thought I’d mention the truly excellent work done by The Homeless World Cup charity [].

I was quite lucky a couple of years ago to volunteer for a short time with the Big Issue in Melbourne, where I met some truly incredible people, both in the office and on the streets. The Street Socceroos were an incredible bunch of guys, and their coach, George, was totally dedicated to helping the team realise their dreams, both in terms of the tournament and in terms of their lives.

The Homeless World Cup is taking place in Melbourne this year in December. I don’t know where you’re based right now, but if you have the chance you should check it out. It’s a project that empowers so many homeless people, who develop the kind of self-confidence and sense of self-worth that is so desperately needed to get off the streets.

Mel Young’s mantra rings as true now as it ever did – homeless people don’t want a hand out, they want a hand up. I’m going to try and get as involved as I can in Melbourne, in whatever capacity possible. It’s an initiative that really makes a difference and raises the global profile of homelessness.

Comment by Scott

you need to update whats happened here rob because its fucking great but the homeless world cup is a sweet idea even if its purpose is different to human2

Comment by andy@cynic

and scott what human2 is all about is giving a hand up not a hand out (its not a revenue based charity) but also help overcome red tape issues that could stop them working or destroy their fragile confidence. come on campbell spill the good news even if its not quite what you want yet

Comment by andy@cynic

We would like to do be a answer to this problem in our local area. The homeless is a huge issue here.
We have a huge homeless center here that Regis Philbin is strongly involved in mostly at Christmas because he is a Notre Dame Alumni and the Center is funded by the University. The Center for the Homeless here is a national model, but
the homeless problem is too big for them to handle by themselves. We work with the homeless and are currently doing whatever we can, but the monies is very limited, we are applying for grants left and right but have not found any help yet as of yet in that venue. But our hopes are high.
Please let me know of any ideas you may have that we have not thought of on this issue. That is of great need in our county also.

Desperately determined to make a difference where it really counts in the lives of those that society has to forsaken,

Pastors Tom and Malena
South Bend, Indiana

Comment by pastor malena

Hi there Pastor Malena and thank you for your note [and sorry for all the swearing 😉 ]

While we’re working with some UK based religious organisations, we would very much welcome your involvement and advice in this issue – especially as I know that the situation in the US is equally as tragic as that of England.

I was in the UK last week and finalised some of the legal obligations needed to be recognised as an official ‘lobby group’ so hopefully we can get things moving at a pace that is faster than has been happening of late – we have had some small successes, but as you know better than I, the pace of change is frustratingly slow at times.

I am in negotiations with a company who could help raise the profile of Human_2 so I will send you an email when this has been finalised [about a week or so] and then we can either meet [I’m in the US at the moment] or talk on the phone to discuss any potential next steps, mutually beneficial ideas or experiences that could be useful. [though your advice is bound to be more plentiful and valuable than mine/ours]

Thank you for your interest and it’s wonderful to hear from you …


Robert [and the gang involved in Human_2]

Comment by Rob

maybe its pastor malenas influence or divine intervention but i find myself missing campbells rubbish rants, what the fuck is wrong with me?

of course ill change my mind as soon as the daft bastard starts writing his rubbish again but hes been doing some good stuff with human2 in the couple of weeks so there should be at least one good post in the next 12 months or so

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] Human_2 is still there. It won’t go away, because we won’t let it go away and because if we can’t be arsed, it will get worse. We’re supposed to be creative you and me. We’re supposed to be clever. And while some of us might be spending a lot of time thinking about how to recycle this and that in order to save themselves and/or the planet in order to gain some kind of myopic peace my mind – or earn a quick buck as a green marketing consultant – people are starving, homeless and lonely. Not in some far off country but right outside your door. […]

Pingback by It’s a bit late in the day for making enemies

good to see this is back on the front page… i would like to do something concerning the issue. are there any news yet? how can i be of help?

Comment by peggy

Sent you an email Peggy …

Comment by Rob

am i fashionably late?

apologies in advance if this sounds too direct and cut throat – i just found your blog – bad huh?

the solution to this is quite simple but hard to exercise and execute. it all boils down to a procedure of regulation of charities, stripping away non profits or registered charities who within a time frame are not meeting their mission statement. there are far too many charities and NGOs [and i’m referring to this side of the pond with over 136 charities & NGOs in Hong Kong and in 2008 147 million was allocated to these, guess what? 2009 Hong Kong’s youth social issues have increased – i didn’t do an anal count of how many charities were set up to address youths alone but take my word for it its at least over 40%] and far too many “evil geniuses” willing to shell out the min. wage to hire an admin girl to file the necessary paperwork to facilitate tax deductions.

whoops. i said it. tax. UK’s currency is already overly inflated with no real exchange of value for whats earned by an average worker. add the council tax, and tv license [which is fine but a discounted rate for the blind – seriously? i mean they cant SEE anything and you want them to go through this?

If you or someone you live with is blind or severely sight impaired, you qualify to receive a 50% concession on the cost of your TV Licence.

If the person who is blind or severely sight impaired is not the current licence holder for your address, you first need to transfer the licence into their name by calling 0844 800 6790. That person can then apply for a blind concession. – for starters if i was blind i couldnt bloody well read that now can i? – ok i wont go into a rant – but imagine that ickle fee allocated elsewhere…]

next paying for a parking permit to park my car that im already heavily taxed on, insurance on and have to make sure it passes the MOT and cos i’m not earning that much but can’t afford to live without the car cos work is far away…what happens? either run the risk of getting to work and if stopped, caught and fined – sell car, cant go to work, cant pay council tax, cant pay rent…evicted and woah did i just become homeless?

ok never fear – have faith – restart – stay at a mates house, min. wage it up again – pull pints, smile your ass off for that extra 20p tip hoping that maybe today you’ll have enough to pay the min. 5 pound to put on the electricity key otherwise its should i eat today and sit in the dark and cold or … you see where im going yes?

and its not like the money is cash in hand – cos we don’t have a choice but to stick to the system and starve a few days, health on the line to get to work and after a few weeks – that catches up – and i just got paid – but getting to pay day might have meant borrowing a tenner here and there – and gotta pay that back cos if it happens again – you cant afford to not have mates willing to help you out…

get to the point.

taxation needs to be addressed – ok thats too radical? council people instead of sitting in an office sipping cups of teas with a mounting stack of paperwork from people genuinely filing them in to get their benefits but cant cos at some frustrated point the tea-sipper just went “oh sod it fine i cant be bothered with this one ill just grant it – im not in the mood” – that one file alone could have been enough to set up a mailbox for homeless to get a registered address…

so instead of an office of people dealing with paperwork – how about dedicating them to get out and up and address a number of households to keep an eye out on those out to fraud the system? that could also be an initiative for the council to fix the very roads and trash and upkeep of the council that we’re being taxed for too… not enough man power? HIRE. not enough money? give back – cut the council tax in exchange for households maintaining their own keep – OH WAIT WE ALREADY DO THAT – some spend their weekends at b&q picking out handy andy quick makeover tips so we could get a bit more if we re-mortgaged – thats RE-mortgage by the way – more debt – so its a lower interest rate – ITS STILL A LONGER TERM – and hang on a minute im buying diy supplies and i still have to diy.

its the quality of an individuals life that deteriorates day by day – and some point we go buy scratch cards or the lottery – with our fingers crossed that maybe today would be the difference to lift us out. and it isnt. so our soul dies a little every day… and going to tescos with an optimistic “every little helps!” – yes every little does help – but dont ask us, the little for it cos we are the ones that need help – how about a bigger corporation, say electricity or even something like a double glazing windows supplier to give a generous donation of replacing a few household windows – those very households benefiting – their quality of life just improved – cos someone actually gave a fuck – so they start smiling, they start looking around seeing what they can do to help their next door neighbors and little by little faith gets restored…

simply put – it takes 1 bold action, initiative from a corporation to improve the physical quality and standard of living – or hey council people – and the community will react…

ahem, miss sky what are YOU doing about it? hey now. im working on my own human2 challenges with the very kids who get affected by the moody vibes adults give off and they dont have anything or anyone positive to give them that extra push… theyre human2!

take the initiative folks. cure the cause by addressing it head on. delays makes the cause a disease and in turn the disease an outbreak. at some point someone up there has to make a big change.

Comment by sky tao

Hey Rob, are you still looking for ideas? I’d love to pitch in for such a social cause, just like Google’s 10^100!!

If so, would you know where i could find out(since google cant tell me) what is the offical/legal definition of an ‘address’ in the UK?

Comment by Jacob

Always looking for ideas however the main role of Human_2 is now up and running and – thanks to my friends at Virgin – lobbying against the practices that stop those who want to work, from working.

You know my e – send anything through and we can talk about it.

Comment by Rob

Don’t you think you should give a proper update on this Rob?

Comment by jamiethepigeon

yes campbell. stop being a slack fuck or is it all tricky dickies fault?

Comment by andy@cynic

Hi Rob,
Great work!

Not sure if this will help but there are two charities (and a lot more, I’m sure) out there that has the same goal as yours and I think it’ll benefit if you guys all work together.

The National Hard Hat Foundation aims to help homeless children around Aus. I know Investa Property Group (building developers) is behind this and they ask their staff to take a day once a year to put on the hard hat and give back. Why don’t we ask the ones in need to put their effort together and put on the hard hat? Together with sponsors, maybe they can build a centre where they can use as their address. Once someone finds their feet, they can move out and let the next person in? Ongoing support could be provided they struggle when they get back out there?

There is also another organisation called Hand-Me-Down used clothes where people donate their work clothes to those in need. There is also a make-over section and help with resume and CV. Maybe this will help with confidence?

Maybe you can also do fund raising activities to get it started. Love to help!
All the best 🙂

Comment by Mylinh

Thanks Mylinh for both the compliment and the suggestions.

Human_2 is up and running but we ended up being more of a lobby group to minimise government red tape and help those who want to help themselves than a revenue generator – hence we don’t talk much about things on here because our work is background, not foreground, especially as they’re many other companies doing a better job than we could ever achieve in the public forum.

That said, we’re trying to finalise an idea that not only would drive a real change in society attitude, but is the single most exciting bit of thinking I’ve ever been associated with. Hopefully we will get things finalised soon and when we do, you can be sure you’ll hear me banging on about it on here.

Comment by Rob

Hi rob, theres a lot of people (like myself) who have rental properties that have downtime. It takes about 2 to 4 weeks to rent a property in sydney (I LIVE IN KL AND SINGAPORE).

My idea is why dont we ask landlords if we could put homeless people in these properties for free – while they waited to find a renter.

In return we would feature their home on a website that celebrates how landlords are changing lives through a simple reality – downtime. And how renters can also be involved – by supporting the site and homes on it.

Downtime was never useful to anybody – until now.

We could also take the idea to commercial establishments. They re shut at night and if we could turn their premises into into sleeping quarters for that time (till 7am) we could feature them on a social business list we create.

We can Monitor business before and after they got involved with the programne. Do info graphics that show if they increased business.

Make this part of the Save our high streets programme being developed by the British government.

Btw im no longer the MD of Ogilvy One. Im about to return to my own consultancy so happy to get seriously involved,


Comment by patrick dsouza

Thank you for this idea. I must admit, my first reaction is I doubt many landlords would do this for fears about damage and potential squatting issues. That said, any idea to help is worth exploring so I’ll talk to the guys at the Virgin charities (who ended up managing all this for us) to investigate the feasibility. Thanks again. Every idea helps.

Comment by Rob

Hi we could start it as an experiment and volunteers would have to manage the premises. It could start with branson giving his house out and blogging about it. That would realky get the tide up! If we make socially cool it might just work. If we could get an insurance company to underwrite the risk of property damage as part of their social contribution. Omg. We really have something going!

Comment by patrick dsouza

Hi there – I don’t want to sound a downer because this is an issue where anything should be explored, but I doubt very much any insurance company would offer a premium for this and if they did, it would be so expensive it would prove to be prohibitive for most landlords.

As for Branson, I’ll ask George to have a word in his ear … he’s his mate and if anyone is going to get shouted at by him, I’d rather it was him. Ha.

Comment by Rob

[…] the work I’ve done with HUMAN_2, I imagine my Dad often received a negative response. Not because the people he asked liked the […]

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[…] Amsterdam. It’s an issue I am asking R/GA and the Virgin Money Foundation [who help me with Human_2] to look at solutions, because it’s only going to get […]

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