Name: Adut Ayik
Job title: Homelessness Support Specialist
Time in current role: 3 months
Adut is a Support Specialist at Beam, a network that crowdfunds training for homeless people and supports them into stable work.
How did you land your current job?
I’d been studying for quite a while and had recently finished my second Master’s degree in african studies at the University of Cambridge. Prior to that I’d done my BA in politics and international relations at Royal Holloway, and my MSc in public policy and management at King’s College London.
I thought academia was my calling but then I realised I wanted to get more real life experience in some of the fields I’d been researching and theorising about. I wanted to do something where I could use my skills to actually add value to a worthwhile mission.
I’ve always been interested in the relationship between politics, policy and social innovation so I did work experience at governments in Brussels, America and South Sudan. I also worked at a few different tech companies. So when I met staff from Beam at a recruitment event, everything clicked into place. I was really impressed with the business model and applied for a job after speaking with the COO.
I thought academia was my calling but then I realised I wanted to get more real life experience
What are the key functions of your role?
Beam is a social enterprise that crowdfunds employment training for homeless people and supports them into stable, paid work. I work in what we call the Mission Support team, which is at the forefront of Beam’s operations. We essentially do the front line work.
I love working one-on-one with our clients and hearing their stories. It’s opened my eyes to the struggles homeless people face, many of whom find themselves in their situation through no fault of their own. Some have lost their jobs, suffered a death in the family or experienced a relationship breakdown.
We work with more than 30 charities who refer homeless people to us. I then work with the homeless to create a Safety & Wellbeing plan to identify any potential risks and make sure they’re ready to start work. We talk about their goals and aspirations and then decide on a career path that’s right for them. From there, I’ll create a personalised budget, so we know how much money they’ll need to raise to fund their training. We also factor in things like childcare and travel costs, plus work clothes and any equipment they may need.
I then need to find a suitable training provider for the chosen course. We’ve had people train in things like bricklaying, accounting and healthcare so it’s important that we use the best providers available. Once we’ve decided on a provider we launch the person’s campaign on our website and wait for the donations to roll in.
Mark is an example of someone who I’ve supported recently. After years of drug and alcohol problems he’s now clean and sober and is training to be a support worker.
Talk us through your typical day at work
My days can really vary. I may be in back-to-back meetings with clients, travelling across London to build relationships with employers, speaking on the phone with training providers or holding outreach presentations for our charity partners.
It’s a real privilege to work one-on-one with our clients and hear their stories.
How would your colleagues describe you in three words?
Principled, driven and supportive.
Your favourite part of the job?
Seeing people go from imagining where they want to be to actually living it. It’s incredibly inspiring to see people develop their confidence and self-esteem.
…and the part you could do without?
A lot of what I do is dependent on other people like training providers and employers so it can be frustrating when I can’t get through to them. It slows the whole admin process down and can delay start dates for people really keen to get going with training and work.
Being personable and adaptable is an important part of the role.
Plans for the future?
I’m not too sure what my role will look like in a couple of years but I’m excited to evolve and grow with the company.
Do you have any advice for others aspiring to break into your field?
Before going into this kind of role it’s always helpful to have experience working with vulnerable people. Whether that’s volunteering at a local soup kitchen or with different social outreach programmes (like London Street Rescue), the experiences will really help you.
Also, make sure you’re developing your people skills. As well as working with vulnerable people, you might be responsible for brokering relationships with new training and employment partners or collaborating with charity referral partners. Being personable and adaptable is an important part of the role.
And finally, don’t be scared to ask questions! LLY