Hundreds of Birmingham's homeless are set to get help in rebuilding their lives following the launch of a new website -

The innovative online job bank of employment opportunities for people affected by homelessness - thought to be the only website of its kind in the UK - has been created by Business Action on Homelessness (BAOH) in partnership with the Pertemps Employment Alliance (PEA).

It was unveiled to business leaders from more than 45 West Midlands companies and organisations during a launch event at PEA's Newtown Advancement Centre, Newtown shopping centre, Birmingham.

Among the guest speakers were two homeless men who have had their confidence and self-esteem restored.

Magged Khalaf and Oliver Schonfelder, who both live at the Birmingham City Mission, are beginning to rebuild their lives with support from PEA and the Ready for Jobs initiative.

Both have both completed work placements and can see a brighter future ahead.

Other speakers included Colin Birchall, chief executive of Pertemps Employment Alliance, and David Darlaston, regional director of Business in The Community, which set up the BAOH campaign to enable business to have a direct impact on homelessness.

The ground-breaking website will help homeless people access job vacancies before they are advertised anywhere else.

They will be able to access the website on computers at hostels across the city.

PEA has spearheaded the development of and donated £10,500 as part of its major commitment to the BAOH project.

In addition, employment coach Gerry Byrne has been seconded to the project by the company. He is responsible for liaising with local employers to get them on board and help coordinate vacancies for the website.

Mr Birchall said: "Most people don't realise that in Birmingham alone there are around 40 hostels providing shelter for more than 4,000 homeless people.

"Enabling these people to begin to rebuild their lives and find employment is a massive issue and one that we are fully committed to tackling head on. We are delighted to be in a position to help by providing funding for the website and supplying skilled staff like Gerry to support the initiative

"I would appeal to employers across the West Midlands to seriously consider placing vacancies on this innovative new website.

"It allows firms to access a previously untapped pool of talent - as many homeless people have good qualifications and can be highly skilled - and break the frustrating 'no home, no job, no home' cycle.

"Furthermore, all candidates put forward for vacancies will be 'job ready' having taken part in a screening interview with an employment coach to assess their suitability.

"So there really is no reason to treat a homeless candidate any differently."

He added: "Birmingham is leading the way in dealing with this key social issue, attempting to break down the myths surrounding homelessness.

"Pertemps Employment Alliance is proud to be playing an important role is this initiative.

"It is another example of our major commitment to helping many good causes through our extensive corporate social responsibility programme.

"We are used to helping some of the most disadvantaged people in our society and this continues that tradition."

Companies which attended the launch included Bradford & Bingley, John Lewis and KPMG, who are all members of the BAOH steering group in Birmingham.