How Technology is Helping to Fight Homelessness: An interview with Simon Clark, CEO of The Aimar Foundation

London, UK | 10 October 2023

More than 4,000 people were sleeping rough across London between July and September this year, with approximately half of them doing so for the first time. Many of these people had mental health needs and over 500 were over 55 years of age. As temperatures plummet, Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, will open its doors, providing warmth, healthcare, food, and companionship for those in need, from Christmas Eve until 28th December.

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CEO of The Aimar Foundation

Simon Clark

Since 2008, the volunteer organisation – The Aimar Foundation has provided technology services to Crisis and its Crisis at Christmas campaign. Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd has been proud to support Crisis at Christmas as its approved print provider since 2021, expanding its support each year. For 2023, the company is going further, becoming an official sponsor of one of the day centres in Stratford, London, with members of the Konica Minolta team joining in, to provide much needed support to those in need throughout the festive period.

Planning began early in the year and as final preparations are made, Simon Clark, CEO of The Aimar Foundation takes the time to share his experience of the important work being done to help people take the first step out of homelessness.

What was the impact of the 2022 Crisis at Christmas campaign?

Last year, a team of 3,400 Crisis volunteers provided support to more than 3,484 people across London.  Together we built advice centres and Internet cafes at eight locations and used a mixture of hotels and schools/academies which were available throughout Christmas, with some staying open into early January. Crisis provided shelter, warmth, food, comfort and clothing to 451 residential guests, as well as offering long term help with their housing, training, health and accommodation needs.  

How important is technology to running of the Crisis centres?

When The Aimar Foundation began working with Crisis in 2008, they had no access to modern technology. Today the Crisis for Christmas campaign couldn’t run without it. The scale of the project is huge and every year we need to be able to install, ensure the stability and decommission the technology infrastructure in a very short period.

The reality for many of the people who use the centres, is that the only permanent address they have that keeps them connected to society is their email address. So, being able to access their account via a tablet and print documents they have been sent, or colour maps they need can provide a vital lifeline.

The technology we install at the advice centres also enables specialist support workers to access and print out case records for individual appointments.

However, it isn’t all just about providing support. In a previous year a woman visited one of the centres with a USB stick that contained a book she was writing. She was able to use the technology available to finish it. Hearing stories such as this makes it so rewarding to be involved in the project.

Why did The Aimar Foundation choose to partner with Konica Minolta?

One of our volunteers worked for the government and suggested contacting Konica Minolta to be our print partner. Since that recommendation, Konica Minolta has been fantastic and is now an integral part of the Crisis at Christmas technology eco-system, not only donating over 30 multifunction devices, along with PaperCut print management software, but also providing an onsite engineer and ongoing technical support, to ensure the everything runs perfectly during the installation at the centres.

The Aimar Foundation is a volunteer organisation but have carefully selected technology providers such as Konica Minolta, Microsoft or IGEL, all of whom have a reputation for delivering secure, stable, resilient, and robust enterprise-wide technology solutions.

How has the Crisis at Christmas campaign evolved?

Pre-pandemic Crisis had a site called ‘rough sleepers’ where there were makeshift beds as far as the eye could see. Guests would stay one night and then leave, and the charity risked losing track of them as they would not return or attend another centre. So, the silver lining has been the opportunity to use hotels where guests stay longer in a room with a warm shower. It means support workers get to spend more time with them to really address their longer term needs and help them to make the first step out of homelessness by the time the campaign ends. This has been a really positive result.

From a technology perspective, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to completely reengineer the platform for Crisis, to leverage the scalability and resilience of the cloud.

What is your hope for campaign in 2023?

This year the aim is to help even more people, with Crisis providing hotel accommodation to over 590 people, as well as opening three-day centres for hundreds of people stuck living in insecure accommodation - such as hostels and B&Bs. The harsh reality is that all of us are not impervious to the impact of homelessness. If the work we do contributes to helping just one person out of homelessness, then all the effort we all put in throughout the year and during Christmas, in support of Criss, will have been worthwhile.
How can people offer their support this year?

Any support people can give is greatly appreciated by Crisis and those who receive it, whether it is through donations, gifting a virtual Crisis Christmas Stocking, fundraising or volunteering. Just visit:



Graham Thatcher

Chief PR Ltd