A brand new way of offering vital help to those in need on the streets of Leeds begins today.
The Big Change will provide a one-stop platform where people can donate money, items and time to help the homeless, rough sleepers and associated vulnerable people.
Big Change aims to raise awareness, inform, educate and engage people in ways to help those in need on the streets of Leeds city centre.
It is hoped the scheme will provide an “alternative” way of giving support to trusted organisations who offer direct and effective help to some of the city’s most vulnerable people.
Led by the Leeds Business Improvement District (BID) and Leeds City Council, the project brings together more than 45 third sector organisations in a single scheme.
Organisations which help those on the streets, and which have signed up to Big Change, can also list what particular donations they need at any time online.
Financial contributions made by the public online will go into a grant programme managed by the Leeds Community Foundation and funds of up to £2,500 will be distributed to organisations to help those in need.
Andrew Cooper, LeedsBID chief executive, said: “Big Change is a significant new city-wide collaboration to bring businesses, organisations and individuals together to help make a real difference to those who are in need on the streets of Leeds city centre.
“LeedsBID is proud to be involved, investing in the infrastructure that has united those involved to make this campaign possible and it creates an opportunity for Leeds collectively to make ‘a big change’.”
A new website has been launched today called www.bigchangeleeds.co.uk to act as a one-stop shop for support and donations.
The funds are available to ensure organisations working with people can help them immediately with everyday items such as a bus pass to travel to a job interview or a deposit for permanent accommodation. The scheme recognises that many people giving money directly to people on the streets are worried that their support could fuel addictions rather than be used for food or a bed for the night.
By giving through the scheme they know that every penny they donate goes to recognised organisations with expertise in this field.
From the website, visitors will be led into the Street Support online network and have the option to find help or give help. The portal also allows visitors to pinpoint the location of many organisations which help to offer support to homeless people across Leeds.
People can also sign up to involve their own businesses or register individually as volunteers.
Some of the city’s most established charities are already involved, including St George’s Crypt, Simon the Streets, St Anne’s Community Services, Emmaus Leeds and the Salvation Army. But organisations of any size are able to sign up.
Coun Debra Coupar, executive member for communities, said: “As a council we’re supporting Big Change because we recognise that these are issues the council can’t deal with alone.” She added: “Big Change is about the city helping people rebuild meaningful lives; it’s about ensuring they get the support in Leeds that they need.”