Driving for Change

A fleet of London buses have been repurposed to give homeless FREE GP, dental, showers, grooming, employment and financial wellbeing support.

On the 7th October 2021, Change Please unveiled two London buses that have been repurposed to provide direct support to over 3,000 people a year sleeping rough on London’s streets. A timely intervention, days before the government’s pandemic measures to help the homeless are due to end, and on the eve of World Homeless Day 2021 on Sunday 10 October.

Change Please is an award-winning coffee company and social enterprise tackling the homelessness crisis and serving communities, with ingeniously simple, win-win solutions. 100% of Change Please profits from every cup of coffee sold helps to provide people experiencing homelessness with a living wage job, training, housing and onwards opportunities.

Change Please will start to provide help and assistance to the most vulnerable from November onwards, ahead of the coldest months. Keep your eyes peeled for the Driving for Change buses around London.

Despite the government’s ban on evictions, increases to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme, the numbers of rough sleepers have risen exponentially over the past 18 months, with an estimated 130,000 households made homeless because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This one-stop solution is a vital offering that will give people experiencing homelessness pathways to potentially life-saving key services that centralise support. In addition to the multiple services Driving for Change will provide, Change Please are in talks with the NHS to provide vaccinations against COVID-19 on the buses for rough sleepers.

The November roll-out will see Driving for Change run for a minimum of two years, with ambition to expand throughout the UK starting in Manchester, then moving abroad to Paris, and throughout the United States.

HSBC UK, Colgate and Mastercard have played a key part in funding the project and will offer information and guidance on longer-term programs that sustainably support those experiencing homelessness. HSBC UK will provide support and resources on financial wellbeing* and can assist people in opening a basic bank account with their ‘No Fixed Address’ service, and Colgate and Community Dental Services (CDS CIC) will offer access to dental care and oral health education as part of their commitment to providing healthy and confident smiles for everyone. Mastercard is also on board, with a representative from its ‘Nobody in the Dark’ campaign present to impart key digital literacy skills.

Designed by leading architecture and design firm TP Bennett, the interior design concept on each bus offers a safe space to make attendees feel comfortable and at ease.

Founder of Change Please, Cemal Ezel said:

“We are thrilled to take this next step in tackling the homelessness crisis in England and the Driving for Change project will help us reach those in need throughout London. At Change Please we believe in sustainable approaches to ending homelessness and Driving for Change will give the most vulnerable people the opportunity to access crucial services which can guide and support them in changing their lives long-term. We hope to take the project nationwide and then internationally to achieve maximum impact; discussions around Paris and Los Angeles have already begun.”

Maxine Pritchard, Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC UK said:

“It’s a sad fact that people experiencing homelessness can struggle to access the financial system because they do not have the required identification documents. Without a bank account it’s extremely difficult to claim benefits, rent accommodation or receive wages, which means people who are homeless can become trapped in their current situation.

“Our No Fixed Address service aims to break this cycle by working with charities to provide access to a basic bank account without the need for ID or proof of address. We’re pleased to bring this service to more people in need via the Change Please Project.”

Driving for Change has also been made possible by customers continuing to buy Change Please coffee, as 100% of profits from the coffee business go towards financing charitable activities. Change Please continues its six-year-long work with people who are homeless, providing them with the resources to turn their lives around. Through its barista training program, Change Please takes pride in its efforts to work directly with those experiencing homelessness to provide a long-term solution, to not only lift people out of homelessness, but to offer sustainable support to give people a real chance to get their life back.

For more information on the Change Please and Driving For Change, and how to share your support, please visit changeplease.org or follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

*Financial wellbeing resources available include:

  • Financial health-checks – HSBC UK colleagues can discuss with the individual where they are at on their financial journey and refer to HSBC UK services where relevant.
  • Printed and digital information on banking basics, managing money and budgeting.

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