Posted by steve on October 10, 2008
Google are running a contest on ideas to help humanity. This is my contribution below.
What one sentence best describes your idea? (maximum 150 characters)
Give charitable foundations who offer water, food and accommodation supply and systems, the possibility to use the unemployed (who get benefits and a bonus) to help.
Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)
The idea is to adjust the status of approved charities to allow those providing housing, food etc, the basic necessities of security, to take on unemployed persons to help in their activities.
A basic agreement would be made between a government agency supervising the charity, and the charity, allowing the charity to utilize registered unemployed persons for 40 hours a week, allowing time for the unemployed person to pursue job seeking during working hours.
The charity would be required in turn to make available all or some basic services including food, water or accommodation to those in need and report on a regular basis to the authority.
For example, with extra people to help out, one charity offering meals might be able to set up a food growing project on local wasteland to increase the amount of food offered. Another might be able to offer more home repair services.
Unemployed people would be offered the normal benefit, plus some kind of bonus to assist with the extra costs involved in helping out (travel to work for example).
This is a very simple idea, using organizations already operational and set up to take on extra help. These organizations are also already registered and receiving state benefit in the form of tax relief, so all reporting structures are in place too.
The skills of creating food and accommodation systems increase the employability of the volunteers and also providing food and accommodation brings stability to areas of unrest.
What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)
- Despite years of economic progress, food, water and accommodation are still not available to a large percentage of the world’s population and an embarrassingly large number of the inhabitants of rich countries.
- The corporations set up to effectively provide these, need paying to make a profit and pay overheads and salaries. People needing these services the most are the ones least able to pay.
- Although many believe in the power of market forces, the presence of the poor, hungry and homeless in any society creates an underlying feeling of insecurity and fear. Knowing you will, whatever situation you end up in, get a roof over your head and fed, gives the security people need to be creative and entrepreneurial, the true basis of prosperity. Insecurity breeds greed and crime.
- The unemployed feel unable to contribute meaningfully to society.
- Charities cannot attract helpers. Many are too busy with their work.
If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)
- Firstly, Hungry and homeless would be fed and accommodated. Getting in more helpers would leverage the effectiveness of existing charities, making donating to them more effective. For example, calculations show one good farmer can support 50 families a year with food.
- Secondly, the unemployed would have a meaningful occupation.
- Thirdly, society in general benefits as well fed and secure people are better able to manage their own situation and develop their entrepreneurship, so prosperity grows.
- Skills learnt in e.g. urban gardening or local water treatment would be transferred to many, increasing the potential for new businesses to spring up.
- Organizations which are strong in delivering this kind of security also bring the potential of peace, and could work alongside the military.
What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)
- Initially, work on defining the requirements on a charity. Then, setting up the inspection, reporting and bonus system. Some pilot schemes should be tried with selective charities and local authorities.
- The authority should try ways to encourage charities to cooperate. Using internet based tools to coordinate the work to quickly find volunteers, connect charities with new potential aid receivers, to aid reporting etc, would assist the speed of development.
- Areas which solved local problems could be encouraged to find ways to export their services to other regions.
Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)
Once implemented, in a city for example, the scheme should reduce the number of hungry people to zero at the same time as the number unemployed without a meaningful place to go to dwindles.
The number of people involuntarily without registered accommodation should drop to zero in time.
Measures: increase/decrease % per month of people hungry. increase/decrease % per month of people homeless. : increase/decrease % per month of people unemployed and engaged in the scheme.
Leave a comment, and if you'd like your own picture to show up next to your comments, go get a gravatar!