The Big Sleep Out and innovating to help the homeless

Rob Wilmot

ARTICLE BY
Rob Wilmot
Founder & CEO

Posted by Rob Wilmot in Ideas and Features on 28 November 2018

Since we started up nearly seven years ago, Crowdicity has been helping Charities such as WWF, Oxfam, Red Cross and the Alzheimer's Society to engage their stakeholders and distribute funds in new and creative ways through the crowdsourcing of ideas, open innovation and innovation competitions. And though we’ve grown quickly with offices and staff around the world, it feels right to do something for charity in the city where Crowdicity began and still has its roots. That city is Nottingham (in the Midlands, UK) and the charity is Framework, a regional organisation dedicated to helping the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

So last Saturday night I laid out my sleeping bag on the tarmac of the car park at the Nottingham Forrest Football Club ground and settled in for the Framework Big Sleep Out. It was a bitterly cold night, a point that was brought home in an address by Framework Operations Director, Michael Leng to the 300 plus people gathered there. “It’s cold tonight, but that’s the point, you're not here to camp out.” He was right about the cold, I only managed about 2 hours of sleep.

At about 3.30 am I decided to go and grab a coffee in an attempt to get warm. The club had set up a hot drinks station in the tunnel going into the stadium, and I was surprised to see that a few people had also had the same idea as me.

Knowing it was pointless trying to get back to sleep, I got chatting to a very diverse group of people. I spoke with a family of 4 with 2 daughters under the age of 12 taking part; the managing director and the development director of Nottingham Forest; the COO of Framework; the former CEO of Games Workshop; the boss of the local David Lloyd Fitness Club; and the High Sheriff and Under Sheriff of Nottingham. Talking with them, sharing our stories of how we had all come to be there, made me feel at ease with the world. It was clear that we were united by a common belief that no one should have to sleep on the streets or live with the constant fear of being made homeless.

Chris And Rob
Chris Senior Fundraising and Communications Manager at Framework with Rob Wilmot CEO of Crowdicity at the Big Sleep Out in Nottingham.

Working in innovation means that I tend to see it everywhere that I look. It was eight years ago that I got a phone call from Chris Senior, the Fundraising and Communications Manager at Framework. He had read somewhere about my thoughts on how social networks would become a significant driver of how communities converge around brands and causes, and he asked if I could come into Framework to educate the organisation about this. Since then, Framework has now built up an active community as a result of their willingness to embrace social media early, while still in its emergence.

And it’s this capacity to innovate that has seen Framework grow the level of services that it provides as government funding for helping the homeless has continued to drop. A UK Government report published in March 2018 shows that nearly 58,000 families have been accepted as homeless by their local council in the past year, equating to an increase of 8 per cent over the last five years. And a recent report by Crisis in April 2018 showed that an estimated 4,751 people were sleeping rough on the streets in 2017, up 15% on the previous year.

We should be thankful for the valuable work that organisations like Framework do for society and that they are continually innovating in the battle again rough sleeping and homelessness. After having a go at sleeping out in the cold for one night, I know I am

I’ve been involved with Framework for about eight years and have been a supporter via my various companies and personally since then. But on this night I was representing Crowdicity, and the team there did me proud, helping me smash my fundraising target as a result of their generosity. Also a big thanks to our partners and suppliers who have sponsored me. I heard today that Framework have raised £38,000 from this year's big Sleep out so far, with donations still expected to come in over the following weeks.

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