Connection Crew is making a bold statement about the events industry’s role within society.

The London-based crewing company has sent ex-homeless recruits from its inaugural Crew Academy to work on major events this autumn, including the Rugby World Cup and BFI London Film Festival.

Connection Crew operates as a social enterprise, providing employment opportunities for work-ready ex-homeless people. It has been doing this for just about 10 years – but now, it’s looking to further its impact on the growing issue of homelessness.

Until late 2015, ex-homeless crew members were recruited through ongoing referrals from its primary partner and founding charity, Connection at St Martins.

Inspired and guided by the success of the Pret Foundation Trust’s and non-profit members club The House of St Barnabas’s own employment academies for ex homeless people, Connection Crew decided to pilot its own programme, partnering up with Crisis, the charity for single homeless people.

“We’re doing this to support more ex-homeless people, but also to provide quality for our clients,” says Charlie Dorman, director of Connection Crew.

“That might be an unexpected outcome to many, but our social agenda creates a supportive and positive working culture.”

Crew Academy truly began ahead of the 10-week programme at the Crisis Employment Platform on the 1 October 2015 – a job fair for Crisis’ clients where they had the opportunity to network with 31 companies and put themselves forward for opportunities.

At the Platform, Connection Crew gave potential applicants an insight into the industry and delivered interview skills workshops. Successful applicants were invited to join the Connection Crew Big Build Day, a taster session where the basics of crewing were introduced through the build of a mock event.

Four participants from the Big Build Day were selected for the programme, which started with two weeks of intensive training, including on-the-job experience to integrate them into the workforce, before entering the current phase – eight weeks of paid crewing. While only one or two ex-homeless people may be offered a permanent role after graduating from the programme, approximately 30 ex-homeless people have benefited from their interaction with the programme.

“This is better for everybody,” Dorman tells Access. “It’s better for clients, better for crew, and better for those who are looking for a way out of the cycle of homelessness.”

Connection Crew plans to run the Crew Academy three times a year from 2016. 

Crew Academy is an industry training and work experience programme dedicated to those who have experienced homelessness, to provide them with an opportunity for a whole new career.

This feature originally appeared in the December issue of Access All Areas, out now.