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Tap for Bristol: Pioneering Scheme for Homelessness Donations

Homelessness is prevalent across the whole of the UK, and it’s not just the big cities like London that have an issue. They’re also not the only city to try and tackle it with new technology.

Something as simple as having contactless card readers throughout city centres could be a massive step forward in tackling the homelessness crisis and raise money to help the cause. And we’re not just talking about London – this is just what Bristol did.

This pioneering donation system aims to raise money to try and prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Anyone frequenting the city centre, be that someone at work, a shopper or even those enjoying a night out can simply use their debit or credit card to tap the paypoint and donate a set amount of £3. The money raised goes to local charities committed to helping the homeless in the city.  

The initial paypoints were set up near the city hall, at a café-bar and also outside a supermarket, with others soon following suit.

Bristol saw a rise in rough sleepers following a soar in house prices and sky-rocketing rental fees.

There was also heavy criticism of business who aggressively fought against rough sleepers outside their buildings by installing sprinkler systems and bollards.

But Bristol are committed to helping those in need.

The great thing about these donation schemes such as Tap For Bristol is that it gives people that don’t carry cash the chance to make a donation. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Just because people tend to carry less cash, doesn’t mean they don’t want to make donations to charity.

Providing contactless payment points makes it as easy to make a card payment as it is to drop some coins in a bucket. It could also even invite donations of a higher amount – If you have £3 in your purse, you might not want to drop all £3 of it in a bucket. But if it’s a simple tap of a card, £3 doesn’t feel like a lot.

In Bristol, the money raised is split between 2 charities, Caring in Bristol and Quartet Community Foundation.

Each one focus on both prevention and early intervention to try and reduce the amount of homeless people sleeping on the street.

They can identify those that are most vulnerable and put a plan in place to give debt and housing advice. Individuals at risk can also apply for support to help them get into a safer and more stable life.

If you knew one tap of your card could result in supporting someone attending a job interview, or 2 taps would fund a support worker to work 1:1 with a young person facing homelessness, wouldn’t you tap your card? You might not have any cash in your purse or wallet, but a few taps of your debit card and you could directly help a prevention worker to navigate someone away from crisis.

Perhaps people feel a little unsure of how best to help someone that they see on the street or rough sleeping. People in general do want to help, but it’s not always obvious how they can. Maybe you buy them a hot drink and something to eat, or maybe you do drop a few spare coins when you have them and are passing by.

But how brilliant would it be if every city had these contactless donation points, where people could donate a small set amount knowing that their money was going straight to a charity committed to truly helping these people off the street.

Some people worry that their cash might be spent on drugs or alcohol, so don’t donate even though they feel the urge to help. Tapping a card to donate money to a homelessness charity might be more appealing to those that want to give, but also want to ensure that what they give will really help.

This technology is a huge step forward in tackling homelessness, and indeed any organisation that need to move forward into digital donations as a part of their fundraising strategy.

Placing these payment points in areas of high footfall could result in a huge rise in donations for these charities, and thus more money to put into tackling the issue of homelessness in the city head-on.

Not only does the presence of these donation points give the opportunity to increase donations, it also helps raise awareness. A person might not tap their card the first time, but they might go away and learn about what the charities do. The next time they walk past they might well just tap to donate.

They are also a fantastic opportunity for businesses and local organisations to get involved with their community by either installing a permanent paypoint in their business premises, or using handheld devices.

As this technology becomes more widespread, you’re likely to start seeing these contactless devices in shops and cafes in addition to the standard charity coin boxes. This gives people a great alternative to donating coins rather than replacing it altogether.

The more people that have the opportunity to tap and donate, the more opportunity there is to raise money and fundraise for these vital causes.