3 TIPS TO BEING MORE SOCIAL-IMPACT-MINDED
Ever wondered how to be more Social-Impact-minded? Or wondered how, no matter how big or how small, you can play a part in making a difference within homelessness? Well, as part of OutsideIn’s Social Impact Team, I’m proud to say it’s actually pretty easy! Social Impact isn’t just grand gestures that change the world, Social Impact starts with small intentional steps that help us to educate ourselves on the realities of those less fortunate and that make us more conscious about the lives of those we are trying to help. Social Impact can take on so many different forms and it can look like anything from donating a product or money, to simply acknowledging someone and giving them dignity simply by our interaction with them. Social Impact is something we can all create in our individual spheres and here at OutsideIn, we are constantly exploring and learning the ways that we can empower one another to make an impact in our individual worlds.
So, here are three easy ways you can make an impact wherever and whoever you are!
As a purpose-driven brand, our goal is to catalyse conversations around homelessness that will change and challenge the negative perceptions that surround it. In order to truly make an impact, we must consciously choose to educate ourselves on the realities that those experiencing homelessness will face and as a result, adapt our behaviour to support these individuals. The first and most simple way to support these vulnerable individuals through our actions is to change the language we use to speak about homelessness.
But how do we do this?
Have you ever wondered why we say that someone is experiencing homelessness instead of saying that someone is homeless?
Using the word ‘homelessness’ to describe a situation rather than the word ‘homeless’ to describe a person helps us to humanise the issue and define it as a temporary situation that can be fixed, rather than a permanent quality that defines who a person is. In order to humanise homelessness, we have to start with how we speak about it. We believe that with the right outlook towards homelessness, we can create the best support needed to help someone move forward from a current situation of homelessness.
When you next encounter or pass someone who is affected by homelessness, challenge yourself to think about the words you use to describe them and make an effort to adjust them to humanise, bring dignity to and usher compassion towards these individuals.
Once we learn how to properly speak about homelessness, the conscious and consistent adaptation of our language will begin to dictate and reshape our overall perceptions of homelessness. Our words have huge power so let’s use them positively!
By creating a better and more educated awareness around what homelessness really looks like, we are able to more accurately and effectively tend to the needs of those experiencing homelessness and truly meet people where they are. By removing the stereotypes placed on homelessness and replacing them with compassionate thinking and intentional language, we can create a culture of true life-changing empathy for these individuals.
Let’s also remember that homelessness looks different from one person to the next! Did you know that there are several types of homelessness in the UK alone? And there are many individuals whose homeless situations are difficult to define. Let’s be aware of the diversity within homelessness and grow our awareness and understanding of these types of homelessness.
The different types of homelessness in the UK:
Rough Sleeping: Individuals who are forced to find shelter in environments that are not designed for habitation such as (but not limited to) streets, stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or ‘bashes’ which are makeshift shelters often composed of cardboard boxes
Statutory Homelessness: Individuals who receive help from local and government authorities; however, in order to receive help from these authorities there are certain criteria that individuals experiencing homelessness will be required to meet. Those that meet this criteria will be deemed as having a ‘priority need’ and will be assisted by their local authority.
Hidden Homelessness: The majority of those experiencing homelessness are hidden from statistics and available support services because they are dealing with their situation informally or ‘invisibly’. This could mean staying with family and friends, couch surfing, living in unsuitable housing such as squats or in ‘beds in a shed’ situations. Each of these situations may leave the individual extremely vulnerable and the majority of these individuals will have slept rough at some point in their experience with homelessness.
At Risk of Homelessness: Some people are more at risk of being pushed into homelessness than others. People in significantly low paid jobs, living below the poverty line and residing in poor quality or insecure housing are more likely to experience homelessness.
One thing we love to do at OutsideIn is connect our customers to the incredible charities they help us to support. Something as simple as giving our time can go a very long way and often, it can mean more to a charity and the individuals it helps than giving financial aid. When we volunteer we indirectly communicate a message that says, “You are worth my time.” This message, even if subconsciously communicated, gives worth, value and dignity to those we help and it provides opportunity for true human-to-human connection that many of these vulnerable individuals cannot experience elsewhere.
We know that the Oi Fam extends far beyond Belfast where our main offices are based. And because the Oi Fam is truly a global community, we believe we can make a global impact. Wherever you find yourself in this big wide world, we’d love to encourage you to take some time out of your schedule to volunteer at an organisation near you. We work with so many amazing charities around the world, and we’ve listed a few of our wonderful partners below! If any of these charities are in your area, why not pop them a message and see how you can get involved and best support them in this difficult time?
Their doors are open to volunteers and they empower society to get involved in Social Impact in a safe, engaging and friendly way.
Some great organisations that make Social Impact simple:
Soup Kitchen London - London
Depaul Charity - Ireland & Northern Ireland
Glasgow City Mission - Scotland
Bowery Mission - New York City
Midnight Mission - Los Angeles
P.S. If you’d like to provide additional financial support, these organisations also take monetary donations which help them to create lasting impact in the lives of all those who use their facilities.
OutsideIn was started with connection in mind. And this connection began with our very special Wear One, Share One initiative whereby we give our customers the opportunity to give an item of clothing to someone experiencing homelessness with the intention to spark eye-opening conversation and true connection. This was our way to equip and empower our customers to be hope-spreaders in their spheres; however, hope doesn’t stop there! There are so many other ways we can continue to bring hope to our worlds, whatever they may look like.
Hope can be as effortless as a simple hello where we acknowledge the presence of another human being. Through this acknowledgement, you remind the person you are engaging with that their life and their story is worth recognition. It reminds them that they, no matter what life has dished out to them, deserve a place in this world.
We can easily under-estimate the power that comes with learning and listening to someone’s story. And this can be SO easy to do! Then next time you see someone in a situation of homelessness, I’d love to challenge you to interrupt your busyness to stop and make someone feel seen. Ask them their name, find out how they are, see if there’s anything you can do to make things a little easier for them, and above all else, make them feel seen. You have no idea the impact this intentionality can create in someone’s life and all it takes is a few minutes worth of stopping, seeing, and showing you care.
As humans we all crave human connection and these small acts of compassion can invoke huge waves of hope for the individuals who need it most.
At OutsideIn we are constantly educating ourselves on how to best impact the people around us and we are always looking at ways to improve our giving back. As we grow on this journey, we ask you to come alongside us in our mission to be more Social-Impact-minded.
We believe every bit of impact, no matter how big or how small, is significant and with your help we believe that we can make a lasting difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness.
So, here we go. Let's make an impact together!