Donations for Luton's homeless are bringing about a Big Change

Funding helps people get back on their feet this winter

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 12:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 12:34 am

Give someone a chance at building a life away from the streets this Christmas with Big Change Luton; where a small donation can make a big difference to those experiencing homelessness.

Big Change launched in 2019 as a way to give to those in need on the streets, with money going straight to the local organisations and charities that support those experiencing homelessness.

The town has risen to the challenge with more than £9,000 raised since the launch, meaning many more people can now tell a story like Declan who received funding from the scheme..

Donations can help change lives

He said: “When I found out… I did a little dance with my key worker Elizabeth. This will change my life as I previously lived in a tent for eight years. I can now focus on getting back to work and settling down.”

Now, the council is asking people to spare whatever they can to help raise more vital funds as winter sets in.

It’s easier than ever to give with a dedicated Just Giving page https://justgiving.com/campaign/bigchangeluton and two contactless donation points at the service desk in the Mall and at the Travel Centre opposite the railway station.

Tim Archbold, Chair of Luton Homeless Partnership and CEO of local homeless charity Signposts said: “We know Luton is an incredibly generous town and there is no denying how hard it is to walk past someone out on the street in the cold.

“But getting people off the street is not straightforward. We are calling on everyone in Luton to donate to Big Change if you really want to make a difference to the people you walk past.

“One hundred percent of your donations go to charities working in our town to give individuals experiencing homelessness the very best chance of making a real change in their lives.”

One individual with a long history of domestic violence, exploitation, and significant health issues, successfully bid for permanent council accommodation in November last year. In order to turn the shell of a flat into a home, she needed a bed, fridge-freezer and cooker. Money from Big Change channelled via her support worker at Keystage Housing enabled her to purchase these key items to help her settle and progress towards the next stage of her full recovery.

Another applicant who has used the services provided by NOAH Enterprise was given money to purchase a mobile phone. This has not only enabled him to open an online bank account but was vital in making it easy for him to conveniently access and apply for job opportunities.

Signposts and Penrose have also been able to assist their clients with mobile phones, furniture or deposit money to secure accommodation.

Luton Council portfolio holder for housing, Councillor Tom Shaw, said: "A small contribution can make a huge difference to real lives through this campaign, we have already seen that to be true.

“Donating to Big Change, with such a powerful partnership behind it, means that people get help that can really make a difference to their lives.

“As hard as it has been for so many, the coronavirus pandemic has given us time to reflect on what matters. If you feel you can spare a few pounds to help people in need in your hometown, please give to Big Change this Christmas.”

Kimberley Lamb, head of the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), said: "We work really closely with members of the Luton Homeless Partnership, which does fantastic work to combat exploitation of vulnerable people.

"This is a brilliant initiative which supports our overarching aims of preventing violence and exploitation by working collectively to help people from becoming involved in the first place."

The alternative giving campaign is managed by the Luton Homeless Partnership, which consists of more than 20 partners from across the voluntary, public, and private sector, all working together to tackle homelessness.

If you are worried about someone you've seen sleeping rough in Luton, you can alert Streetlink by downloading the Streetlink app or by calling 0300 500 0914. The information will be sent to an outreach team which will respond the same or the next day.

To donate simply swipe your card across the contactless donation point, see https://cvsbeds.org.uk/bigchangeluton or the Just Giving page.