Imagine you're a caterpillar. Come on, go with me on this one...
You’ve had a tough time of it lately. You’re very, very small - almost invisible to the rest of the world in fact. With no family or friends to speak of, you spend every day alone, searching for food and somewhere to safely rest at night. Earth-bound, you dream of your butterfly destiny; of freedom and flight.
So then, imagine you live on the streets of London.
You spend every day worried about where your next meal will come from, whether you'll have a safe place to sleep that night. Whilst you are completely surrounded by people, your day - aside from a cursory nod, or tentative smile - is bereft of human contact. Bound by your circumstances, and invisible to your peers, you dream of another life.
What happens if these people are offered branch of support? A hand-up rather than a hand-out?
In 1984, Chrysalis got the ball rolling, providing a safe place for the homeless where they were encouraged to become self-sufficient, ultimately finding employment and access to the community.
Since then, this trend has accelerated as the world has realized that often one of the best ways to help is through allowing victims of poverty to become the solutions themselves.
Take Cracked It, which trains at-risk young people between the ages of 16 and 24 to repair cracked smartphone screens. This has gone from strength to strength as their program is seen as a positive route away from crime and gang membership, giving the trainees an income as well as a feeling of self worth and belonging.
Or Clink restaurants that have been established in 4 different prisons around the country and staffed by offenders being trained in hospitality. Again this approach seeks to allow the disadvantaged in society to help themselves; to reach a long-term solution.
These types of initiatives are popping up all over the place, and are going down a treat. Second Shot Coffee and Old Spike Roastery have both latched on, and both promote themselves as social enterprises, as they employ the homeless whilst offering hospitality training and further support.
Not only does the novelty of these projects grab the attention of the public, in our 21st Century keenness for an Instagram or to try something different, but they also provoke reactions. Preconceptions are called into question, the idea that the homeless or offenders are not people to be ignored or pushed into the corners of society, but their involvement and personal reestablishment should be celebrated and enjoyed.
This trend falls right into the laps of the free-spirited generation of today, so watch this space and who knows what butterflies might appear…
Just some caterpillar musings of mine,