What To Do If You See A Rough Sleeper
If you see a rough sleeper send details of where and when you see them, as well as a brief description of the person, to StreetLink using their website, app or phoneline. Homeless Link and St Mungo’s operate StreetLink in partnership.
Do not contact StreetLink if you think the person you are concerned about is under 18, instead call the police.
How alerts about rough sleepers are monitored
Volunteers at St Mungo’s monitor alerts, check the information and forward them on to outreach teams.
StreetLink receives hundreds of alerts every day and they are seeing an increase in referrals every year. When the ‘Beast from the East’ hit in February 2018 there were more than 3,600 messages in a 24-hour period.
Outreach teams go out to engage with roughsleepers, however, it’s not as simple as helping them to local shelters.
It is tricky to turn referrals into positive outcomes. Rough sleepers are unable to be located in a third of referrals in England.
If they can be found, rough sleepers are dealing with a range of issues that led to them sleeping rough and these issues are made worse by living on the streets. The outreach team already knows the person in 18% of cases and it becomes a case of checking in with them and building up a relationship.
If you feel a rough sleeper tell StreetLink using its mobile app, calling 0300 500 0914 or visit: streetlink.org.uk. If someone is in urgent need of medical attention call 999.
Extreme poverty is extremely expensive. If we can prevent people becoming homeless, or get them securely accommodated as quickly as possible, it is much cheaper. Research for Crisis in 2015 puts the cost of a single person sleeping rough in the UK for 12 months at £20,128 and successful intervention costs £1,426.
Should you give money to rough sleepers?
This is a hot topic at the moment and there is no definitive answer to the question.
Some people give homeless people money to help them get off the street, while others prefer to donate to homeless charities rather than the individuals.
A warm drink, food or warm weather equipment such as clothes and blankets really help a homeless person.
Rough sleepers often lack socks. Very few people donate socks, but they are one of the most useful items for people sleeping rough.