Market research - ROOF - Eileen O'Callaghan

Contents

 

Executive  Summary

This report contains information on the feasibility study for our Client’s project. The information in this report is under the following headings:

  • Identify if this sort of project has been done before? Failure/Successes?

The Empowerment Plan is a successful project that is similar to our client’s project.

  • Findings of the structured questionnaire with homeless individuals in Swansea.
    • The Homeless Challenge team carried out structured questionnaires with homeless individuals in Swansea.
    • As requested the structured questionnaires were not visible when engaging with the homeless and there was no mention of the actual product.
    • There are some failed attempts of collecting information for the structured questionnaire.
    • There are four successful attempts of collecting information for the structured questionnaire.
    • The information was collected by the consultant from homeless individuals around Swansea city centre.
    • Some of the questions on the structured questionnaire were not answered.
    • The consultant wanted the individuals to feel comfortable talking, it was more of a conversation that took place.
    • For others some of the questions were not applicable to them. 
  • Analysis of the structured questionnaire.
    • The field research carried out found that
      • the majority of the individuals are from Swansea
      • the majority of individuals willing to participate in the project are young
      • life events that lead to homelessness were linked to childhood disadvantages. One of the cases was a relationship breakdown with his mother, another was parental addiction.
      • others individually declined to share that part of their lives.
      • research found two out of four of the individuals abuse alcohol and another previously took drugs. 
  • How it would work- suggested procedure.

There are five steps outlining how the project could work.

1.  Identify if this sort of project has been done before - Failures / Successes

The Empowerment Plan is a successful project that is similar to our client’s project. The Empowerment Plan was established in 2011 by Veronika Scott the CEO and founder (Plan, 2010). Veronika Scott started The Empowerment Plan, as a 20 year old design student in Detroit (Plan, 2010). "The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit-based non-profit organisation dedicated to serving the homeless community" (Plan, 2010). The Empowerment Plan mission statement is "to educate, employ, and empower homeless individuals to create a better life for themselves and their families while producing a humanitarian product for those in need" (Plan, 2010). "Our goal is to help build a better life for those that have become trapped in the cycle of homelessness" (Plan, 2010).

The Empowerment Plan currently has coats in "29 states in the US and 3 Canadian provinces" (Plan, 2010).The Empowerment Plan is "producing 6,500 coats this year and have made over 9,000 coats since they began" (Plan, 2010). "The Empowerment Plan can produce 1,000 coats on a budget of $100,000. Our studies show that for each 1,000 coats distributed, we can save 14 lives and reduce healthcare costs by $58,800 annually" (Plan, 2010).The Empowerment Plan employ's 20 previously homeless individuals and are paying their employees the living wage" (Plan, 2010). "It takes 3.5 hours and costs $100 to make a coat" (Plan, 2010).The coats are given to homeless "people living on the streets at no cost to them through partnerships they have established with outreach organisations in communities around the nation" (Plan, 2010).

How The Empowerment Plan began

Veronika Scott believes women have a difficult time in understanding their value and self-worth (Plan, 2010).Veronika's parents are both addicts, she" believes she was set up for failure, in a hole and she had to climb her way out" (Plan, 2010).Veronika got a scholarship to attend University, one of her assignments was to design something to fulfil actually needs (Plan, 2010).Veronika stated "This is the day that changed her life" (Plan, 2010).Veronika did research at homeless shelters from that research she produced a coat that turns in to a sleeping bag and when it's not in use a bag (Plan, 2010). Veronika talked to the homeless to get feedback on her product (Plan, 2010).When getting feedback on her seventh prototype, a women came out of the shelter and was shouting at her (Plan, 2010).The women said " We don't need coats we need jobs" (Plan, 2010).Veronika though "what would really make an impact is by hiring the population that need them in the first place" (Plan, 2010). This lead to the concept of hiring individuals from shelters, then training them in sowing, manufacturing and employment (Plan, 2010).The Empowerment Plan "mostly hire homeless parents from local shelters to become full time seamstresses" (Plan, 2010).The aim is "so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and gain back their independence for themselves and for their families" (Plan, 2010).

Veronika's approach to hiring homeless individuals

Veronika personally talked to every person before hiring them (Plan, 2010). Veronika told them “it was their clean slate, their opportunity to make whatever it is you want to make for yourself" (Plan, 2010). One of the homeless said “She knew we were homeless, she didn't mind sitting in the shelter and actually wanting to get to know them" (Plan, 2010). The homeless lady said “No way, were supposed to be lost, thrown away and tossed out". Another homeless lady said "A lot of people feel sorry for us; I don't want them to feel that way because we have accomplished something. They should look at us for who we are, not what we have been through" (Plan, 2010). The Empowerment plan now employs 20 previously homeless individuals (Plan, 2010).

2.  Findings of Structured Questionnaire with Homeless Individuals in Swansea.

See Appendix A - point 5 (example of structured questionnaire)

  • Contact was made with the Wallich's project manager. The project manager declined to set up a meeting unless she knew what the end product was. Our client has been informed, it's at our client own discretion if she wants to share the information with the Wallich's project manager.
  • Contact was also made with Zac's Place unfortunately there was no response.

The Homeless Challenge team carried out structured questionnaires with homeless individuals in Swansea. As requested the structured questionnaires were not visible when engaging with the homeless and there was no mention of the actual product.

Below are some failed attempts of collecting information for the structured questionnaire.

  • The first encounter was with a homeless lady selling the “Big Issue” on High Street. This lady was Romanian and unfortunately did not speak English.
  • The second encounter was with a homeless lady again selling the “Big Issue” on High Street. This lady was Romanian and did not speak English.
  • The third encounter was with a homeless man selling the “Big Issue” outside the quadrant bus station. The man was also Romanian and did not speak English.
  • The fourth encounter was with a man begging on the street on Kingsway in Swansea. When approached the man declined to participate.

The following are four successful attempts of collecting information for the structured questionnaire. The information was collected by the consultant, from homeless individuals around Swansea city centre. Some of the questions on the structured questionnaire were not answered. The consultant wanted the individuals to feel comfortable talking, it was more of a conversation that took place. For others some of the questions were not applicable to them.

Participant No: 1

Gender: Male Age:23             Location: Outside Primark     From: Swansea.

He became homeless three months ago when he spilt with his girlfriend. He went back to his mother's house but she kicked him out. He said “She always left me behind” (ref). When asked about the project he said “I just want help, I would be completely committed to the project and I don’t take drugs” (ref). When asked where he seeks shelter, he said “I can’t go to shelters, I have no phone” (ref). When asked how he sources food he replied “I go around Swansea asking for money. I keep to myself as I find other homeless in Swansea are mostly scumbags” (ref).When asked where he sleeps he said “where-ever I can” (ref).  A ranger then approached and told the young man to move from outside Primark, or he will be banned from Swansea city centre for 24 hours. When asked where he will go now he replied "I don't know, somewhere out of town"(ref).

Participant No: 2

Gender: Male             Age:38       Location: Outside the news agent on Wind Street

From: Swansea.

The man was sitting outside the news agent with a hat in front of him. The hat had some coins in it, he was begging for money. The interviewer put money in the hat and asked could she sit beside him to have a chat, he agreed. The man said he has a wife and three children (ref). They lived in a house but had no money for the basic essentials like food. The man said "I drink too much and so does my wife"(ref). He lived in Swansea all his life and neither of them are working (ref).The man said he was homeless before for a long time (ref).When asked about the project, the man replied "My wife would be interested, not me "(ref). The interviewer arranged to meet the man and his wife the following day at 10.30 am outside the YMCA. Unfortunately neither the man nor his wife turned up.

Participants No: 3 and No: 4

Gender: Male      Age:21  Location: Outside St Mary's Church From: Merthyr Tydfil

Gender: Female  Age:24   Location: Outside St Mary's Church From: Swansea.

Participant No: 3 and No: 4 were both sitting outside St. Mary's church in Swansea. They said they were friends not a couple (ref).

The young man recently came to Swansea from Merthyr Tydfil to find work, he had been living on the streets in Merthyr Tydfil. The man said "There is no work in the valleys. All the boys do up there is drink and take drugs" (ref). The young man said "My father died at a young age and my mother turned to alcohol. She had lots of abusive boyfriends, I was thrown out of home by one of her boyfriend's at the age of 16"(ref). When asked where he had been sleeping in Swansea he replied "With this girl here, she's a legend. We're staying with her friend but we don't know for how much longer" (ref). When asked about the project he replied "All I want to do is work and sort my life out, and if it helps other guys on the streets it sounds good to me" (ref).

The lady said she has been in and out of the care system from a young age (ref). She declined to tell the reason. The young lady said she was addicted to heroin but is now taking methadone, she has been clean three weeks (ref). When asked how she funded her addiction she replied bluntly "I sleep with people for drugs or money"(ref).The young lady is sofa surfing with the young man she was with. When asked about participating in the project she seem very positive. "I'd give it a go, there should be more stuff like that for us."(ref).

3.  Analysis of the structured questionnaire

The structured questionnaire identified the following:

The "Big Issue"

The homeless individuals selling the "Big Issue" in Swansea are mostly Romanian. There were two women and one man selling the "Big Issue", none of the individually spoke English. The fact that they were selling the "Big Issue" indicates they are willing to work. They may be interested in our Client’s project but there is a language barrier.

Male Participants

Two out of the four males are interested in our Client’s project. One of the males that was not interested was not willing to participate in the structured questionnaire. The second male that was not interested said his wife would be interested. Both of the males not interested were in there late thirties. The male's that are interested are aged 21 and 23. It indicates the younger generation are more willing to participate in our Client’s project.

Female Participants

One of the males spoke on behalf of his wife suggesting she would be interested in our Client’s project. A meeting was set up for the following day unfortunately they were a no show. The ladies age is unknown. The second lady aged 24 was very interested in our Client’s project. Again this indicated the younger generation are more willing to participate in the project.

Other findings

The field research that was carried out found that the majority of the individuals are from Swansea. Life events that lead to homelessness were linked to childhood disadvantages. One of the cases was a relationship breakdown with his mother, another was parental addiction. The other individually declined to share that part of their lives. Research found two out of four of the individuals abuse alcohol and another previously took drugs.

4.  How it would work- suggested procedure

Research suggests there is a market for this product in Swansea. The majority of homeless individually willing to participate in our Client’s project are a younger generation.

Step 1:

The client should make contact with the project manager of the Wallich. The Wallich would be a gateway into meeting more homeless individuals. The client can then take Veronika's approach to hiring homeless individuals. Veronika went to homeless shelters and spoke to every person individual before hiring them. Veronika made it clear this was there opportunity to make whatever it is they want to make of themselves. This approach is best practice as research found homeless individual reacted positively to Veronika's approach.

Step 2:

Project Sponsors: Veronika funds her business through partnerships they have established with outreach organisations in communities around the nation. Multinational corporations can donate to charities instead of paying tax. The client can have the finance team look in to this source of income.

Step 3:

Equipment and product materials: The client has the equipment needed to carry out this project. To source the product materials need our client can look at the following options:

  • Donations from organisation in Swansea.
  • Donations from both national and international organisations.

Step 4:

Location: The client already has good relations with the vicar at St. James church. This would be a good location to use as the workshop. When the business expands our client can look in to other churches in the area like St. Mary's church.

5.  Questionnaire 

  • Name
  • Area of Swansea you are located:
  • How do you source food?
  • Where do you seek shelter?
  • Are there are specific organisations or individuals you turn to for help…..?
  • Gender: Male                  Female                   Other
  • Age: 18-28                     28-38                     38-48                     48-58                                                           58-68                     Other
  • Ethnicity
  • Dependents (children):     Yes                         No                   Don't know
  • If yes, is your child / children in full time education?    Yes         No         
  • Reason for homelessnes?
  • Can you describe what a day in your life would entail?
  • Reason why you are in Swansea?
  • What work skills and experience do you have?
  • As a homeless person, if you could be given one item to keep you warm, what would that be…..? and why would it make a difference to you…..?
  • If there were workshops available to make this product, would you participate in making this product?    Yes         No          Don't know
  • Would you want to be involved in a programme teaching skills for potential long term employment?   Yes         No          Don’t Know
  • Would your child or children need to be looked after if you became involved in this project?  Yes         No          Don’t Know
  • Would you use this product?   Yes         No          Don’t Know
  • Would you value this product if you paid for it vs. if you were given it? Yes         No       Don’t Know
  • Any other comments: