How to help that homeless person – right now (England-specific)

Do you ever walk past a homeless person and feel bad inside, but blank them and walk on because you don’t know what you can do?

This is what you can do:

Save this number to your phone: 0300 5000 914. This is Streetlink. They’re a company geared towards receiving information from the general public about people sleeping on the streets.

If you have a compatible smartphone, download the Streetlink app here.

Save this link: www.streetlink.org.uk

Do these things now. If you’re reading this, you must be on the internet. Go on, hop to it.

When you meet a homeless person, start by asking if they’re sleeping rough. This is designed for people who are sleeping rough (don’t get me started on government funding cuts).

Ask if they’ve got a phone. If they do, give them the Streetlink number.

If they don’t, get some basic details – if they’re up for it. They might not want to give you their details. You’re just some random, after all.

Things to ask: their name. Obviously. Where are they sleeping, and what sort of time do they head there? Their age: if they’re young, more options might be open to them. Any other major issues? If the person is a pregnant woman, they should go right to the top of the council’s To Do list in the way that a fit thirty-something man (unfortunately!) doesn’t. You could get their mobile number and include it in the referral.

Clock what they look like: Streetlink will ask for a description of them, so outreach teams can recognise them.

The Streetlink website is quick and simple, and you can even tick a box saying you’d like to know what comes of the referral.

You may not have the energy to refer every rough sleeper you see. I don’t. But it’s one useful thing. Homelessness organisations collect all this data. They have dedicated teams using it to find those people and help them out.

There are lots more ways you can get involved, like volunteering with Thamesreach or Broadway (St Mungo’s has merged with Broadway) in London, or looking on Homeless UK.

But if you don’t have the energy to do that, a phone number could be a lot more useful than some spare change.

***Do you work for a homelessness charity? Have I made a glaring error? Please comment!

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