Big Issue Vendor

James Bowen backs job training platform for homeless people

Bob the Cat's owner becomes an ambassador for a new crowdfunding project supporting people with a plan to get off the streets

James Bowen, the ex-Big Issue vendor turned bestselling author of A Street Cat Named Bob, has backed a new project aimed at helping homeless people off the streets and into work.

Bowen has become an ambassador for Beam, a platform supporting people who believe they have a particular plan to work themselves out of their crisis.

The model sees members referred through homelessness charities – including St Mungo’s and Thames Reach – then assisted through a crowdfunding exercise to gain potentially life-changing skills and employment training.

“Beam is a great way to help these people to get back on their feet and actually train in something they want to do,” said Bowen.

The author and his beloved cat Bob – stars of a recent movie adaptation of the million-selling book – recently met Beam’s first member Tony, an aspiring electrician living in a hostel in south east London.

In less than a month, Tony has successfully funded his campaign to gain training and qualifications as a specialist tradesman – raising £4,378 from 136 supporters.

Thanks to Beam, I’m now training to become a fully-qualified electrician

“When I first heard about Beam I thought, ‘Why would anyone want to help me out?’,” recalled Tony (pictured above, left).

“I just couldn’t believe it when the money started coming in. Then, when I read the messages from my supporters, I just didn’t have words. Thanks to Beam, I’m now training to become a fully-qualified electrician.”

Backed by innovation funding from the Mayor of London and the innovation foundation Nesta, the team behind Beam are confident they can help more people unlock their potential and find career success.

“I believe people want to help but feel powerless,” says founder Alex Stephany (pictured above, far left).

“My question was, ‘How can I take a small amount of money but make the smartest possible investment in someone’s future, helping them out of homelessness for good?’ At Beam, we believe it’s by working together to crowdfund new skills and employment training.”

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development, added: “The Mayor of London is pleased to support Beam as an innovative approach that enables Londoners to help directly too.”