Help the homeless: here's how
We all do it. We walk past rough sleepers every day. We care, sure, but knowing what to do to make a genuine difference is tricky. Here are some things you can do that will help. We promise.
Call the StreetLink hotline on 0300 500 0914 to connect them with local outreach services.
Remember to be a human. Stop for a chat. Take the time to be friendly and ask them what they need; whether that’s food or cash or even some food for their dog, who are often their main source of companionship.
A lot of people have varying opinions on whether or not you should give money directly to the homeless. Whatever your opinion, there are loads of way to impact a homeless person’s life directly.
In the age of Kickstarter, you can easily invest in helping to rebuild a homeless person’s future through crowdfunding. By donating to Greater Change, you’ll be directly funding someone’s rent deposit or identification documents so that they can move into stable housing.
By donating to BEAM you’ll be helping a homeless person go through employment training and supporting them into work.
Rather than sell your unwanted clothes on eBay, why not donate warm clothing or blankets to homeless people that are useful when temperatures drop?
As an alternative to donating your possessions, you can now buy items for the homeless online – check out CRACK + CIDER, the online shop for the homeless. Or Jollie Socks if you’re into that kind of thing.
Many of the national charities such as St Mungos, Crisis, or Shelter provide opportunities to use your skills and interests to volunteer your time to help the homeless. From yoga, art and cooking all the way to direct outreach support, there’s loads of ways to help.
But there’s also lots of small charities in different areas doing great things: for example, you could volunteer to become a Magpie MoM to help struggling mums with under-fives in temporary accommodation in Stratford.
Or go further than that: cook up a storm by starting your own Street Kitchen. All you need is a few volunteers, spare kitchen space and surplus food! Or check out FoodCycle, a charity that cooks community meals across the country for those in need.
From the lack of social housing and the distorted private renting sector to mental health and addiction, rough sleeping is a problem that cuts across many issues.
There’s a lot that needs to change to prevent vulnerable people from sleeping rough in the first place; including reforming prisoner release and the de-mobilisation of ex-servicemen; fighting against the benefits freeze; building more social housing, and much more.
As good a place to start as any is to sign Shelter’s petition to demand more social housing.
It has recently been revealed that lettings agencies – such as Ludlow Thompson – often advise landlords to reject tenants that are on housing benefits. Already struggling with housing costs as rents have outstripped wages, renters on housing benefit are being denied their right to find a home, pushing people closer to homelessness. Ludlow Thompson will only stop this unacceptable behaviour if enough of us put pressure on it to change. To find out more, click here.
One of the most important things you can do to help someone sleeping rough is to connect them with local outreach services through the StreetLink hotline on 0300 500 0914.
If you have a spare room in your home, you can host a young person who is experiencing homelessness and prevent them from sleeping rough.
Failing all that, just remember to be a human. One of the simplest things you can do to help a homeless person is to stop for a chat. Taking the time to be friendly to a homeless person can make a massive difference, compared to the amount of people that ignore their existence on a daily basis.