Pivot is a jewellery shop with a difference.
Much more than just pretty metals, Pivot works with people who are experiencing homelessness and living in hostels, providing them with training on how to make, and sell, jewellery.
“I always say to people, jewellery is really just the pilot,” explains Alice Moxley, founder and CEO. “You could apply this theory to so many different types of products.”
Pivot truly began when Alice spent five months working in a YMCA in North London. Her experiences opened her eyes to the issues facing people experiencing homelessness, including the barriers to employment that exist when living in temporary housing. From not having a permanent address, to having to work in specific, restrictive hours, it isn’t easy to get a job – and without a job, there’s no money for food or housing… and so the cycle continues.
“You get into these really vicious cycles and people get so demotivated – I’m being very general here,” she says. “It’s very hard to get out of this rut. And so the idea was, if you can’t leave the hostel, how about I bring work to you?”
Many people experiencing homelessness also suffer with mental health issues; it becomes a vicious cycle that can prevent many people from finding a job, or leaving temporary accommodation. A 2014 study by the Mental Health Foundation found 80% of homeless people in England reported that they had mental health issues, with 45% having been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
By bringing work to the hostel, Alice and her colleagues at Pivot give people experiencing homelessness the opportunity to engage with other people, and provide them with a creative outlet that is not only fulfilling, but provides them with a usable, profitable skill.
Over the course of 12 weeks, Pivot holds weekly, four-hour sessions in hostels that consist of training people to make jewellery. Pivot provides financial support for these individuals over the course of the 12 weeks, gives them one-to-one coaching and support, and provides them with the information and tools they need to design, market and sell their creations.
“We create jewellery that we can make in a safe way, a hostel environment. So it’s very specifically designed to be made by people who don’t have any prior skill,” says Alice. “It’s quite simple, but it’s not over simplistic. You get … satisfaction from making it.”
At the end of the 12-week course, the participants are taken to a market where they can sell what they have made for a profit – all done with the intention of offering them employment at Pivot afterwards.
“On our payroll, two out of five of our employees have come out of the hostel,” explains Alice. Even those who don’t go on to be employed by Pivot, who are still a small company, now have new skills that they can take elsewhere.
Trained as an architect, Alice initially used jewellery making as a creative outlet in her own life, before coming up with the concept for Pivot. Getting off the ground just 49 days before the first UK COVID-19 lockdown, it truly has been a trial by fire.
Today, Pivot sells the jewellery made by employees who were in temporary accommodation on their website and at market stalls across London.
By providing training and one-to-one support for those experiencing homelessness and living in temporary accommodation, they are giving people the tools that they need to move forward – one step at a time.