Helping the Homeless:
I can remember the first time I noticed the Street Smart card on a restaurant dining table. It was one of those quirky little ideas that seemed entirely reasonable to me (although I can be quite cynical about this kind of thing at times). We were enjoying a great meal and a very small amount was going to be added to our bill as a voluntary contribution to help the homeless. A marketing professional myself, I was genuinely impressed at the thinking behind the scheme. The texbook marketing I learnt at Business School as defined by Kotler is ‘ ‘satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process’, and in this case the outcome is something that can change young lives for the better. It’s instinctively the right thing to do.
At Christmas we all need and want to feel that we are ‘giving’. And by this tiny act of giving, when we are being self-indulgent and dining out, we buy into something very special.
Unbelievably the campaign has now been running for 16 years. Over £6.3 million has been donated by restaurant diners to help address homelessness and the campaign has grown from a handful of Soho restaurants taking part in 1998 to over 500 participating in 22 cities throughout the UK.
During 2013, StreetSmart supported 103 different projects tackling homelessness ranging from food banks and winter shelters to housing advice and employment training. This support has been crucial as charities battle with a 33% increase in homelessness since 2010.
In the UK 80,000 young people each year experience homelessness, often ending up in hostels, squats or sleeping rough as a result of family breakdown, making it even more challenging for them to access education and employment opportunities. Deutsche Bank, who have partnered with StreetSmart since 2006, are committed to helping young people to fulfil their potential. 48% of funds raised by the campaign last year supported preventative projects for young people. And, they covers all of the campaign costs, ensuring that every penny raised goes towards helping those in need.
“StreetSmart is low in bureaucracy and high on delivering where help is needed. We may not be able to solve the question of homelessness but at least by doing something we, in some way, diminish its tyranny.”
So, this short post is really just a reminder to all of us who will be dining out in November and December about what we can achieve with just a very small contribution. If you’d like to find out more, the Street Smart website has more information including a full list of participating restaurants.