An insight that sparked a homelessness charity...

We both have a strong belief that the advertising industry has the power to make a huge difference in the world so we were always thinking of new ways to solve problems. Whilst we were in Berlin we came up with an idea we really believed in.

A homeless man approached us and asked for spare change but, like so many others, we became awkward and said no despite feeling incredibly guilty and empathetic towards him. After confiding in each other about how we felt, we came back to London and dug a little deeper until our thoughts were confirmed by another homeless man we met: “people don’t give me cash on the streets because they think I’ll spend it on crack and cider”. This became the insight that our entire company is now built on.
We wanted to evoke the feeling of life on the streets without ever having to show the stereotypical image of a homeless man begging for money. The general public don’t need to be shown the issue in order to empathise with it and the homeless population doesn’t need to be used to guilt people into giving money. It’s a clean, simple approach that treats everyone equally.
The startup costs of this project was a meer £614 which meant we were able to fund it ourselves. By avoiding large expenditures such as shop rental and stock warehouses, we were able to make back our nominal startup costs within a matter of days and therefore put all our donations to the best possible use; buying essential items for the homeless.
One Good Deed Today aligned perfectly with our ethics and we knew they already ran pop-ups within the store. We simply contacted the owner, pitched the idea and, thankfully, he recognised the potential.
Our main objective is to make people think differently about the person asking for spare change on the street. From feedback, we’ve certainly achieved this among certain individuals but we have a lot of work to do. Our name has held up the stereotypes and stigmas people attach to rough sleepers and we have brought that into the public conversation which we’re proud of and will continue to do.
As far as our physical targets, we never expected to deliver nearly 6,000 essential items to rough sleepers in London in the coldest winter in 4 years. We’ve accomplished more than we ever thought possible in our first year and hope to continue and reach even more people over the coming years.
As a new brand in this sector it was just about sending emails. A lot of emails. We reached out to Hackney council for their support and presence at our launch event, we contacted The Big Issue Foundation for advice, we engaged our partner shelters to distribute our products all through cold emails and calls. We really did just feel our way through the whole process as neither of us had any experience in this field before. It just goes to show anyone can make a real difference in their community if they dedicate a bit of time.
As many startup Founders will probably tell you, it can sometimes feels like a never-ending set of challenges. Funding was something we managed to overcome with some simplification and clever thinking, the next challenge was getting our product into the right hands. We overcame this issue by enlisting shelters and soup kitchens across the capital to distribute our products to their patrons. By leveraging the volunteers’ personal relationships with the homeless individuals they see each week, we knew products would be getting to the people who needed them most.
We have provided good-willed people with a solution they didn’t have before. Prior to our existence, the general public had two options: give cash on the streets or give to a homeless charity. Neither allow people to see where their money has been spent meaning people had no adequate way to help a cause they care about. Now, so many people have contacted us to thank us for providing a new way they feel comfortable with, resulting in more people being engaged with the issue and doing something to help.
We’re also proud of the reaction from the homeless population. An ex-homeless man contacted us to tell us “if you’d been around when I was homeless it would have been a godsend”. That is a pretty special thing to hear.
We enlisted some help from friends on how to approach the PR but we did it ourselves. Our name was headline grabbing and the idea was something that had never been done before so it made gaining column inches reasonably simple.

We plan to continue our work in London whilst releasing some new products along the way. We are also planning our launch in San Francisco this winter.
The most important thing for us is that the cause is helped, it’s way bigger than us and our work. Simple acts of kindness towards homeless people will make a huge difference to their lives and it’s something you can do today. And every day.
People can continue to support CRACK + CIDER by purchasing warm essentials online and by sharing our work with their friends. The support we gained in our first year was incredible but we want to make an even bigger impact this winter!
My best tips would be to find the right partner and to keep it simple. Without my Co-Founder and without simplifying our crazy grand plans into something manageable this would never have gotten off the ground. Also, be brave! We took a huge risk calling ourselves CRACK + CIDER but people got it and, even better, they talked about it. I’ve also written a more in depth guide for starting side projects for The Huffington Post here.

Team Credits

Scarlett Montanaro

  • Advertising Creative
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Project Tags

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  • CRACK + CIDER

    CRACK + CIDER

    • Charity

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Scarlett Montanaro
Advertising Creative