Business

Outsidein aim to provide jobs for the homeless

Jude Henderson, director of sales for Outsidein, left, with founder David Johnston
Kelly McAllister

THE creator of a brand that encourages people to reach out to the homeless is expanding his business in the hope of creating jobs for those who are living on the streets.

David Johnston, founder of the social enterprise Outsidein, has teamed up with the Welcome Organisation in a bid to employ those who are service users in their homeless centre.

The 26 year old from Co Antrim is planning to open a warehouse that will allow people transitioning out of homelessness to make products for his business.

"A lot of the time when we are on the street a homeless person will say that they want to get a job but have no skills or experience. We are that stepping stone, they can come to us then go on to future things that can help them progress and stay off the streets," said Judy Shaw, director of communications for Outsidein.

"At the moment, our way of eradicating homelessness is giving the consumer an extra product to give to someone on the street.

"But now we are thinking of how we can get people off the streets. We want to give them the means to support themselves to get out of the situation that they are in," she added.

Outsidein started in December 2016 when David ordered an unbranded hat and decided to put a logo on it. To begin with he had one type of hat that someone could buy for themselves and along with it they would receive another one to give out to someone without a home.

David took part in a street photography project during his time at Stirling University in Scotland. Whilst observing a range of different people, he noticed that the homeless were ‘really forgotten’. This urged the young entrepreneur to approach and build relationships with them.

Hearing the stories of each individuals journey and how they ended up in the situation they were in inspired David so much that he decided to create a business that would encourage society to engage with those who are homeless.

For the first year the business was ran from David’s home and during that time Outsidein donated over 10,000 products worldwide. Although the business started off small with just one product, soon after people began to ask for a range of things from hats to jumpers and other ‘practical’ products that they could give to the homeless.

Now Outsidein have a unit in Workwest, an award winning organisation which supports and encourages business in their establishment and growth. Just last week they launched a new summer range that has 37 new products.

The range includes t-shirts with the slogan ‘hope sweet hope’ on them, a play on the words ‘home sweet home’.

“What we are trying to suggest to people is that you might not be able to offer a roof over someone’s head, but you can always share hope.

“You can give your time, give your words of encouragement and tell them that they are valued and not an outsider. That is the way you can help eradicate homelessness,” said David.

“Every time you buy from me it matters, it creates opportunities. People in the street still have dreams, they still have hope.

“We want to start transitioning people out of homelessness. Our aim is to create a global movement.”

Outsidein products are available at a number of coffee shops in Belfast and the north coast such as Town Square, Indigo and Boffee.

They are planning to branch into London and Edinburgh in the coming months.

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