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B4B digital and safe solutions supports ‘Thames Reach’ help protect the homeless

We are proud that our solutions have helped protect the homeless during the pandemic by providing shelter.

About Thames Reach

Thames Reach is a charity based in London, supporting people facing homelessness through prevention, response, and recovery. The charity specialises in helping people with complex and multiple needs, including mental health, drug and alcohol use. It manages a range of services, including street outreach, frontline hostels, and day services, specialising in support of housing and employment schemes. Thames Reach’s mission is to assist homeless and vulnerable adults in finding decent homes, building supportive relationships, and leading fulfilling lives.

The situation

The financial exclusion was a massive hurdle for homelessness during the pandemic. Homeless people don’t have the facilities and documentation to open a typical bank account. As measures were introduced to curb the virus, many services moved online and being unbanked created additional problems with day-to-day payments and accessing government support systems. At the height of COVID-19, when paying for things in person became a problem, this group of individuals was more excluded than ever.

During the pandemic, payments were provided under Government contracts, following an order to get everyone off the streets. This allowed Thames Reach to provide essential payments to help victims during the most challenging times of need. 

An issue for them was how to pay government aid in a way that doesn’t put support victims at risk of being targeted as known carriers of cash.

They wanted to implement better control over expenditure and reduce the risks associated with the distribution of funds for both the recipient and the charity workers.

The solution

Thames Reach plays a crucial role in helping to address social inequality and providing intervention to individuals at critical times of need. Its mission is to assist the homeless and vulnerable men and women to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives off the streets of London.

B4B Payments expense cards have been one of the critical measures put in place to help support those who are homeless and at risk.

Working with B4B Payments, Thames Reach found an easy-to-use digital solution to help clear the streets of homelessness during the pandemic. Homeless people were deemed the most at-risk group due to their inability to shelter and protect themselves against COVID-19.

The B4B payments system and card allowed outreach workers to make direct payments to support vulnerable people on the capital’s streets. Their team leaders used the B4B system to keep track of government disbursements when buying food, clothing and shelter, subsequently helping at-risk individuals get on with their lives and reach more positive outcomes. 

The benefits

With their B4B prepaid cards, Thames Reach received unique login details for the management portal that enabled access only via their fixed IP address.  The burden and risks associated with cash handling were eliminated by putting funds on a virtual prepaid card. Our prepaid cards have reduced administrative strain and overall cost for the charity, making them more efficient and agile and ensuring more donations and payments were spent supporting the victims in need rather than paying for support services. 

Once an individual was identified as at risk and in need of support, the process of paying for accommodation was fulfilled digitally – benefitting both workers within the Thames Reach offices and the people they serve.  Funds were safely transferred to the B4B float, and payment was made to the merchants without needing cash or vouchers, all administered by an intuitive, easy-to-use payment card and management portal.  

Here is what Martin Hubbard, Head of Finance had to say:

By providing our front-line staff with pre-paid credit cards we enable them to provide immediate support to our clients but within a framework that gives us control over how much can be spent by each employee

Fintechs have a considerable responsibility to break down legacy barriers within the banking and financial services and make financial services more accessible to those in need. With our help, Thames Reach has now achieved the best possible system for supporting victims’ homelessness, allowing payments to at-risk individuals remotely and securely.

To find out more, contact us today!