Harinder Singh, MD of BJS Haulage, has partnered with the ‘Under One Sky’ community organisation to demonstrate the viability and necessity of employing those who are currently without a home, to greatly reduce homelessness in the UK. The company is named after Baba Jaswant Singh Ji and compassionate, spiritual values are at the heart of the organisation.
Harinder says “During the Covid-19 Spring/Summer lockdown, our employee Mark was found rough sleeping in Trafalgar Square by the non-profit organisation Under One Sky. Their volunteers were out in Central London each day, seeking to help those left behind on the streets whilst the majority of people were asked to stay home. He was given food and warmth and secured a personal sponsor that enabled him to find safe accommodation, and he has now been working at BJS for four months.
He needed someone to believe in him, someone to back him and give him a break. We want to challenge the assumptions around homelessness, recognising and acting on our potential to help. It would be wrong to assume that those failed by society will fail those who help them back on their feet. Empathy and compassion in the corporate world should be the norm, not the exception.’
Mark O’Reilly has been living on the streets since he was 16 years old. His mum’s addictions denied him a nurturing start to life but the street-smart survival instincts he cultivated largely kept him out of trouble. He was 21 years old when Under One Sky found him outside the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square during the lockdown. Well versed in street living Mark was sceptical of offers of support and initially turned down attempts to find him secure shelter. The determined team won his trust and, thanks to a private sponsor, arranged a hostel where he remained at the height of the pandemic.
An Under One Sky volunteer didn’t want the end of pandemic support to mean Mark’s only option was to return to the streets. He reached out to Harinder, a personal friend, and enquired as to employment opportunities at BJS that would be a fit for Mark. As an expanding company with vacancies that prioritised hard work and commitment over academic qualifications Mark was offered a role as a driver’s mate, a role he has been successfully managing for four months now.
Under One Sky recognise the importance of on-going support as people transition in to new opportunities but hope that this inspiring case study shows that it can be done.
On October 24th Harinder and the BJS Haulage team loaded a truck with donations to gift to those still on the streets, distributed with the support of Under One Sky. Mikkel Juel Iversen, founder of the charitable organisation said;
“We are incredibly grateful to Harinder and the BJS team for shining a light on the positive contributions our previously homeless friends can make, to businesses and their wider communities, when given the chance. If we are to be successful in our goal of ending homelessness once and for all, then we all have a role to play. We look forward to partnering with other businesses in the future that are inspired by Harinder’s example.”
By returning to the streets of London together, BJS and Under One Sky hope to encourage other companies to support these types of schemes, to the mutual benefit of all parties.