Fat Macy's

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Fat Macy's : Supper clubs run by young homeless Londoners to secure deposits for first homes

London, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Scaling strategies launched within the past 6 months:
Not Applicable
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Fat Macy's is a series of supper clubs run by young Londoners living in hostel accommodation to secure deposits for their first homes. Fat Macy’s overcomes this cycle by using the project’s profits to create a specified housing deposit scheme allowing residents to save for a deposit for a new flat.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could work with homeless people to create an innovative solution to the housing crisis and the problem of benefit sanctions?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Fat Macy's addresses the barrier residents face when attempting to move out of homeless hostels and into private rented accommodation. Under current housing benefit legislation, if a resident works more than 16 hours a week their housing benefit is cut and they must pay a much higher monthly rent, so there is little incentive to get a full-time job, and even the most motivated struggle to save. This negatively affects ambition and mental health.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Fat Macy’s identifies an innovative way of helping facilitate the transition from hostel accommodation into independent living. We start from the idea that people need a real, tangible incentive to do something, especially if they have had to adapt to living in the chaotic, volatile and fragile environment that hostel accommodation so often presents. Fat Macy’s main aim is to overcome the bureaucratic obstacles to saving money, but we also strive to challenge the stigmas surrounding homelessness. Sadly, homelessness is often interpreted as an indicator of bad attitude, benefit scrounging and inability. We want to put a new face on homelessness by showcasing how proactive people can be when trusted with responsibility and given a chance.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Kevin is a current resident of a homeless hostel in London. Whilst studying for his A-levels, and working 15 hours a week, Kevin earns £79.50 per week, and after all bills and food paid to the hostel, he is only left with £22.30 per week. This is the only money available to Kevin to save for a deposit for a flat. Clearly, there is a huge financial barrier preventing him from moving from temporary accommodation and into the rental market. Our model, where Kevin volunteers at our events allows him to build practical work experience whilst gaining the tangible reward of a flat deposit. Kevin now has £650 in his deposit fund which he can access once he feels ready to move into private rented accommodation. FM provides a solution and support.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Fat Macy's has recently completed it pilot, we have since completed 12 events, including a ten night residency off Brick Lane. Selling over 250 tickets, we have already taken £7500 in revenue. That includes over £2000 of savings spread across six chefs, two of whom have saved over £700 each and are now looking to move of the YMCA. We have proved that our model works, and that with a commitment of 60 hours across ten events, we can ensure each chef will save a minimum of £600. We have worked with six residents at events, and a further 20 in homeless hostels. With growth and streamlining our model, we hope to run 5 supper clubs series over the next year, allowing us to work with and help find a home for twenty chefs. We hope to bring in £50k of revenue through these events over the next upcoming year, allowing each chef to earn minimum £600.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

I believe Fat Macy's is a very easily replicable and scaleable model, and can be carried out in most cities both nationally and globally. By achieving our streamline and growth model as outlined above, we believe we can not only train minimum twenty chefs per year (with just two members of staff) but also widen our current geographical reach. With increased profit, we can begin to pay our salaries, thus working on Fat Macy's full time, whilst employing new staff to run parts of the programme. We are currently reaching out to homeless shelters across London as our starting point.
Funding: How is your project financially supported?: 
grants or contracts - 20%
earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) - 80%

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are currently making £2000 per ten event series, which we hope will grow to £5000 with a couple of adjustments. At that point we will be financially sustainable as we will have revenue to cover salaries, and still make profit. We are currently aiming to make up for out shortfall with grant funding. Longer term we hope to secure contracts with homeless shelters to provide catering training. We are currently working with the North London YMCA.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are currently groups who work with homelessness and food, including Crisis Cafe, Second Shot Coffee, Change Please and the House of St Barnabas, but none of these models provide the housing deposit scheme aspect as we do. The majority either provide paid work or work experience, and yet we believe we differ from the project by having both an extensive amount of work experience and support, with the tangible benefit of a housing deposit scheme. We believe this innovation sets us apart from the current social enterprise market.

Founding Story

Fat Macy's was inspired by my work at the North London YMCA - a 150 bed homeless hostel in Crouch End. Residents repeatedly expressed their frustration at the impossibility of saving for a deposit to move into private rented accommodation. I also noticed a clear lack of opportunities with tangible incentives. Despite many different sessions, nothing actively helped residents moving on. The cooking classes caught my attention because it was the first time I’d seen a real enthusiasm and commitment to a session. The residents had a love of cooking and brought their own recipes to sessions. By combining this energy and passion with entrepreneurship, tapping into the thriving pop-up food scene, Fat Macy's was born.


Our team currently includes Meg Doherty - CEO and founder, and Fred Andrews - Director and co-founder. We are both 2016 Year Here Fellows, having completed a postgraduate course in social innovation and entrepreneurship. Both are currently working part time on Fat Macy's alongside other work, but would hope to be able to work full time later on. We have both come to social innovation after university and a breadth of work experience.
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