Use McDonald’s monopoly tokens to help the homeless

mcdonalds-monopoly

If you’re a keen visitor to McDonald’s, you’ll know about its recurring Monopoly promotion that runs in a number of countries across the globe. You’ll often get a free food voucher for a portion of fries or a McFlurry, but while you might be tempted to hoard them for future binges, perhaps donating them to the homeless is a better way of using them.

That’s what Matt Lawson from Melbourne in Australia proposed in a Facebook post on Monday:

matt-lawson-photography

McDonald’s is currently running the monopoly game and I’ve got an idea. If you win free food by purchasing food you would of bought anyway, why not put your tokens in a jar and take them to an area where you know there are people less fortunate then yourself (Melbourne CBD, Fitzroy shelters etc).i did it today and if all of us do it together we can be part of a small change. FEEL FREE TO SHARE. #bethechange#monopolisecharity

“Why not put your tokens in a jar and take them to an area where you know there are people less fortunate then [sic] yourself,” he wrote. “I did it today and if all of us do it together we can be part of a small change.”

“I know it’s still consuming junk food, but it can teach our kids and ourselves a lesson in giving with no taking,” he said in a comment on the viral post.

What a simple idea to make a small difference in your community.

 

Footballers tell squatters to stay in their Manchester hotel for the winter

Manchester Stock Exchange

A group of squatters and homeless activists that took over a huge hotel undergoing renovation have been told they’re allowed to stay for the winter – by the hotel’s owners.

Manchester Angels gained access to the building, which is due to open as a luxury boutique hotel, on Sunday. The group assumed they’d be swiftly moved on, but were told by former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, one of the properties owners along with Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs, they could stay.

Now the Grade II-listed former stock exchange on central Manchester’s Norfolk Street will become a home and welcoming hub for many of the city’s homeless.

Housing activist Wesley Hall, 33, said he broke down and cried after Neville told him the group could stay for a few months. “I’m crying,” he wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “Just go off the phone to Gary Neville. He’s letting us stay for a few months over the winter period and he’s gonna help us with intervention. I’m shaking here.”

Manchester Angels 1

The imposing former stock exchange was bought by Neville and Giggs two years ago for £1.5 million ($2.3 million). The pair gained permission to turn it into a 35-bed hotel complete with basement gym, spa, bar, restaurant and even a rooftop private members’ terrace.

Before that, though, it will be a sanctuary for homeless people. It’s been renamed the Sock Exchange and will provide somewhere to sleep, hot food, clothing, health checkups, advice on benefits and help with securing long term accommodation. There’s a hashtag, #OpSafeWinter, to coordinate the work. The group say they’re “in talks with a household name chef” to help with a Christmas meal.

“We are going to do everything properly,” Hall said of the project.

“We have already drawn up rotas for cooking, cleaning and staffing the gate. Everyone will be able to have their own room and each person will be able to lock their bedroom door.”

“We were expecting that as soon as Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville found out that we had occupied the building, they would try to get us evicted and that we would have to look for another building. Having a few months during the winter to work with homeless people without the threat of eviction hanging over our heads is brilliant.”

According to Hall, Neville just asked that the temporary residents allow surveyors to access the building as work continues on its renovation. Hall said he has promised to leave the building in as good a state as he found it, if not better.

Youth homelessness in the UK

Homeless Person

A new study on Youth Homelessness in the UK has been published.  The study focuses on identifying priorities for future service development.

This study reviews changes in youth homelessness policy and practice across the UK since 2008. It draws on academic research, “grey literature”, and available data and statistics, combined with qualitative interviews and focus groups with 26 youth homelessness experts from the four UK nations. The review aims to identify key gaps in provision and practical models that offer the most effective responses to youth homelessness.

The report highlights a number of positive developments over the last seven years:

  • improving responses to homeless 16/17 year olds;
  • the extension of the rehousing duty to virtually all homeless people (rather than only ‘priority’ groups) and a stronger emphasis on homelessness prevention in Scotland;
  • the introduction of a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness in Wales;
  • the extension of local authority duties to support young people in care; and
  • investment in the development of accommodation options for young homeless people in England.

 

Gaps in services

Drawing on consultation with 26 youth homelessness experts across the UK, the review identifies a number of areas in which service provision can be strengthened and developed:

  • PreventionDespite the mainstreaming of preventative ‘housing options’ approaches across Great Britain, the availability, uptake and effectiveness of mediation services could be improved, with a particular gap identified in the provision whole-family interventions and support and access to respiteor time-out emergency accommodation options while such family support and mediation is put in place.
  • Accommodation optionsYouth homelessness organisations face a major challenge in providing good quality accommodation that is genuinely affordable to young people both in work (often on low wages) and out of work (often with limited entitlements to welfare support). There is a particular gap in accommodation provision for young homeless people with complex needs who require high levels of support, with high quality, small-scale supported accommodation projectsSupported Lodgings; and the ‘Housing First’ model seen to offer promising solutions for this group. Psychologically informed environments –designed to take into account the psychological and emotional needs of service users – are now seen as crucial in the youth homelessness sector given that a higher proportion of young people using services have complex needs. For young people with low support needs, the development of long-term accommodation options that are affordable for individuals on a low income are required. Such provision might include: ‘light touch’ supported accommodationPeer Landlord and other shared accommodation models; design and build options that minimise costs and rent-levels; repurposing of former student accommodation; and refurbishment of empty properties.
  • EmploymentThere are calls for the better alignment of youth homelessness and youth employment services, to improve the employability and prospects of young people experiencing homelessness. Means of improving the employment offer for this group include: improving (formerly) homeless young people’s employability and work readiness through training and skills programmes and work experience; engaging and supporting employers to enable them to offer employment opportunities to young people who have experienced homelessness; and encouraging employment and earnings progression for homeless/formerly homeless young people through in-work support.
  • Social networksSupporting young people who have experienced homelessness to develop positive social networks is seen as an important means to support resettlement, improve young people’s wellbeing, and reduce the risk of repeat homelessness. Developing ‘social networks approaches’ to youth homelessness provision that help young people develop informal connections in the local community both during and after homelessness, including through mentoring schemes, were seen as important areas for development.

 

The full report can be accessed here.

A briefing summarising the report’s key findings can be accessed here.

75% of homeless youth use Facebook and Twitter

Homeless Person

A recent study found that 75% of homeless young people use social networks to stay connected to others – a number comparable to that of university and college students.

The study, led by the University of Alabama’s Rosanna Guadagno, surveyed 237 college and 65 homeless young people that were an average of 19 years old.  A vast majority of both groups reported using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook for at least one hour each day.

Over 90 percent of college students reported using social media programs for at least one hour every day.

Guadagno makes the argument that a “digital divide” in Internet access should be re-thought:

“To the extent that our findings show a ‘digital divide’ between undergraduates at a four-year university and age-matched participants in a program for homeless young adults, it is mainly in types of Internet use and not access to the Internet, and that divide is relatively minor.  Since it is clear that the proportions of undergraduates and homeless young adults accessing social networking sites are similar, we assert that the term digital divide is not descriptive of the young adult population.”

Another recent study from the University of Dayton found that homeless youth are closely linked to social media in their daily lives. They don’t only use such networks for social contact and equality, but as a means to solve practical daily issues.

Art Jipson, the head of the Dayton study, found that the homeless use social media as a place where all people are treated “equally,” and through a series of interviews, discovered that it can also be a medium to find social services, somewhere to sleep and their next hot meal.

I’d be interested to know if any similar research has occurred in the UK with the ever increasing group of sofa surfer teenagers.