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Jonathan Tan, Founder and CEO of Greater Change writes about how their model of providing personalised budgets helps people out of homelessness for good. Greater Change are looking to expand their work across the UK: get in touch via the details below.

"I spent all my money on just rent during the pandemic. I was pregnant and people didn't want to hire me. I was thinking like, when am I going to be able to move? How am I going to be able to save up £700 for a deposit?

My support worker sent an application to help me with my deposit. Less than a week after applying, I received the donations. I’d definitely still be at the homeless accommodation if it wasn’t for Greater Change." - Mel, A Client of Greater Change

Alex and I started Greater Change in 2018, motivated by the stories we were hearing from clients when volunteering at Aspire Oxfordshire. The story we heard again and again was that individuals were prevented from moving out of homelessness at the final hurdle.

The particular barrier was different every time, but they all required a relatively small financial boost to overcome it. David didn’t have the funds for a rent deposit. Nathalie couldn’t pay for employment training that would’ve guaranteed her an income. Lee couldn’t afford flooring and vital furnishings for his new flat.

5 years on, Greater Change helps overcome this final financial hurdle out of homelessness by providing individuals with personalised budgets and support. Partner charities refer clients to us for whom a relatively small financial boost will have a transformative impact. These clients tell us exactly what they need to take this step out of homelessness, we listen, and fund it.

How Greater Change works

Through listening to, and funding what people tell us they need, our model is dignified and effective in bringing individuals out of homelessness for good or preventing them from becoming homeless in the first place. We don’t cherry pick; we recognise that it is important to meet people where they are and will always work with them and their key workers to build a realistic plan around their ambitions. We have rejected fewer than 10 cases in our history so far.

1. Partner charities, such as Shelter, refer clients who need a financial boost to help them out of homelessness/prevent them becoming homeless in the first place. Examples of these are:

  • Funding a rent deposit for a private sector property
  • Supporting education/training to help individuals into work
  • Clearing arrears to prevent eviction of an otherwise stable household.

The only conditions are that there is a sustainable long-term plan, the client has ownership over the plan, and their worker believes in it.

2. Greater Change provides the financial planning support and the cash grant to unlock these key next steps.

3. The support worker at our partner charity uses the budget to pay for the rent deposit/clear the arrears etc.

4. The individual takes large steps to move out of homelessness.

Our cost effectiveness and impact

So far, Greater Change have supported over 900 individuals and 86% of clients last year maintained their move out of homelessness 6-12 months on.

  • By clearing Holly’s £860 in utility arrears accrued due to a one-off financial shock, we were able to stop her eviction process and prevent her from falling into homelessness.
  • By funding Leigh’s rent deposit and furnishings for a privately rented flat, we were able to support him out of temporary accommodation, to enable him to have his kids round to stay.
  • Rachel was given social housing, but it was completely unfurnished. By funding vital furnishings for her home, Greater Change was able to ensure she didn’t fall into debt and that her move out of homelessness was sustained in the long term.

Our support cost an average of just £1,319 per person in 2022/23, saving local councils millions of pounds in temporary accommodation costs, which average at around £15,000-£18,000 per homeless person per year.

Learn more about our impact here.

Get in touch

Greater Change currently operates in some of the Southeast of England with local authority funding. We are looking to expand into other local authorities and to spread our impact across the UK.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our model and how it could help individuals in your local area, please get in touch by emailing jonathan@greaterchange.co.uk