Young peoples' powerful stories of homelessness and destitution have been laid bare thanks to an innovative new fundraising project.
Aldershot’s Step by Step charity has now launched a Turn a Life Around or ‘Avatar’ campaign, a series of short videos each featuring a cartoon avatar designed to allow people affected by homelessness to tell their stories anonymously.
Step by Step works with young people aged 11 to 25 and offers them a second chance to turn their lives around through a combination of services including accommodation, training and counselling.
The charity must raise around £320,000 each year to maintain its existing level of support and the campaign is its latest attempt to highlight the plight of some of the Aldershot area’s most embattled.
Sandy Fitzgerald, Step by Step’s fundraising and marketing manager, said: “The original idea came to me when I was talking to a colleague about how our clients have the greatest impact when they tell their stories in their own words.
“So we decided to turn them into the cartoon characters.
“The clients chose what the characters would look like and did the sound recording sessions themselves so they were able to tell their stories in their actual voices.
“It’s meant to raise overall awareness of the charity but what we really want it to do is raise £20,000 during the next year.
“This will contribute to training services which enable young people to go out to find work or college placements.”
Two key partnerships with Orchid Digital and Dusza website have recently helped bring the charity’s project to fruition.
Helen Pritchard from Orchid explained its role was to coordinate the video side of the project and underpin the story-telling element thanks to its experience running digital campaigns.
“We felt having real stories voiced by some of the clients make the videos even more authentic, alongside the Avatar illustrations we created,” she said.
Steve Clark, director of Dusza, added: “They may be only a few minutes of insight into a young persons life so far but the ‘no-holds-barred’ account is incredibly honest and highly emotive.”
Step by Step has also been boosted by a £37,000 donation from LBW Lettings, based in Crookham Village, specifically to support its education and employment programme.
Last year, the programme had around 130 participants, of whom 81 successfully secured either jobs, education or training places or took up volunteering opportunities to further their experience and skills.
Mel Williams, LBW director, said “I knew from first-hand experience that Step by Step does a brilliant job helping local young people to regain their self-esteem and discover their talents and passions.”
As reported this month a vital part of the charity’s services will be forced to close down due to funding cuts by Hampshire County Council. Those facing homelessness by offering four steps towards living independently but steps three and four services will be lost.
The videos have been published on the Step by Step charity's website.