The problem of homelessness in the UK is one that is particularly front of mind as the nights get colder. The word ‘homelessness’ generally conjures up images of people forced to sleep on the streets and face the worst of the elements through winter.

 While this is the case for some of the homeless community, often homelessness means people are ‘sofa surfing’ or living in temporary and unsuitable accommodation. 

And it’s a huge problem. Reports state that anywhere between 153,000 and 280,000 people in England are currently classed as homeless and whether they are street sleeping, in a hostel or sleeping at friends homes, it has a detrimental impact on lives. The average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is just 45 for men and 43 for women. This is a shocking contrast from the UK average life expectancy of 79.4 for men and 83.1 for women. 

A helping hand
But putting a roof over people’s heads is just the beginning of a solution. People living without homes need help and support, both emotional and financial to help them move on and create new lives, living with dignity and purpose and reducing their chances of ending up back in homelessness. Doing this can create multiple benefits, not only for those individuals who are helped but for our society as a whole.

Greater Change is a forward-thinking organisation that is raising finance through Ethex, the UK’s positive investing platform, to raise £400,000 to help achieve their vision of a future without homelessness. Based in London, Greater Change is a pioneering digital enterprise enabling individuals to directly fund others to move on from homelessness through financing a specific goal.

How does it work?
While traditional homelessness charities focus on getting people into accommodation, the team behind Greater Change want to help them take the next step towards rebuilding their lives. They realised that each homeless person has unique financial barriers to finding a long-term path out of homelessness and they came up with an innovative idea to help bridge that gap.

This happens through the pioneering Greater Change digital platform that lets individual donors choose to donate directly to an individual cause, giving people the financial support to move on that's not currently available elsewhere. Finance can be used in a wide variety of ways, paying off debts that are holding people back, a deposit on a home of their own or training for a new career. 

Take 23-year-old Najma, who, having experienced homelessness, secured a dream internship with ITV in Bristol with the aim of building a career in TV. But having not worked for a couple of months, she needed support to fund one month's rent and deposit and Greater Change’s community of donors were there to help.

And when Natalie was determined to move on from drug addiction and secure a job in construction, Greater Change, along with charity partners, Aspire were able to help her put the pieces in place for her to succeed, she says: 
“Now, I’m regimented, I have a routine. Without Aspire and Greater Change, I wouldn’t be here. Life could have been very different for me. They helped me, they chatted to me. There’s no discrimination, there’s no judgement.”

Natalie is now in a place she can call home and loves her job as a Telehandler at Taylor Wimpey where she runs her own building site!

And it isn’t just the end-users who benefit. Moving people on from homelessness creates substantial savings for the government and taxpayers – in fact, Greater Change have already created over £2.4 million in savings in 2020/21 alone.

Greater Change work alongside charity partners, like Aspire who provide non-financial support, together enabling long-term change to let people move on from homelessness. To date, they have successfully supported over 350 people to create a brighter future and they're on track to have helped over 550 by the end of this year. But they know they can do much more.

The investment opportunity
Working hand-in-hand with their charity partners, Greater Change have a vision of empowering over 34,000 people to take positive steps out of homelessness and build new lives by 2031. Their ordinary share offer will help them to expand the organisation to realise its full potential by further developing their giving platform and reaching more areas of the UK. 

Investments in the share offer are EIS Tax Relief eligible, meaning they attract tax relief at 30% and target a dividend from year four, forecasting a return of 3% - 10%. 

Investors will be a part of the Greater Change success story, meaning they can continue to develop a new way of giving that enables donors to see the direct impact their money is creating while supporting local councils to tackle the homelessness crisis.

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex: “In supporting Greater Change we are supporting a company with a similar approach to our own. We have seen the benefit of putting investors directly in contact with those who need funding, removing layers of red tape and getting urgent funding where it needs to be to have a positive impact. It’s a pleasure to support Greater Change apply a similar principle to tackling homelessness in the UK.”

Alex McCallion, Founder, Greater Change says: 
“Since founding Greater Change in 2018 we have supported over 350 people and with the increased funding facilitated by Ethex we can expand our work even further.” 

So, this winter, if you are looking for a practical way to invest to support more people to move on from homelessness while targeting a potential return, take a look at the Greater Change profile on the Ethex platform.

Please note that investing in the offers available on the Ethex platform puts your capital at risk and returns are not guaranteed.

Investments offered on the Ethex platform are not readily realisable, which means that they may be difficult to sell and you may get back less than you originally invested. Investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and returns are not guaranteed. If you are in any doubt, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.

Investments offered on the Ethex platform are not readily realisable, which means that they may be difficult to sell and you may get back less than you originally invested. Investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and returns are not guaranteed. If you are in any doubt, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.