If you’ve headed outside for a lunchtime stroll or to pop to the shops lately, chances are, you’ve seen someone homeless sleeping on the streets. When you think about it, it’s alarming how commonplace a sight it has become in the UK.
4,266 people slept rough in England according to the official count in 2019. While that represents a 9% decrease from 2018, the figure is still 141% higher than when counts started in 2010.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, homelessness has become an even greater issue. In London, the number of people sleeping on the streets rose by a third between April and June last year alone.
During the pandemic as well as the cold weather we’ve been experiencing, it’s more important than ever that we do everything we can to help those without a home.
This week, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan activated the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) across the city, and many other county councils across the country followed suit. This sees councils, in association with homelessness charities, making emergency accommodation available for people who are sleeping rough during the worst weather conditions.
If you’re worried about someone who may be sleeping rough in your neighbourhood, you can use the Street Link website or app to connect them with support services.
You’ll be asked to provide as many identifying details as possible – name, location, appearance – which are sent to the local authority or outreach service for the area, to help them find the individual and connect them to support.
If you think the person you’re concerned about is under 18 or requires urgent care, you must call the police instead.
You’ll then receive details of the action the local authority normally takes when they’re informed of someone sleeping rough in their area, as well as an update on what happened as a result of your alert if you requested it.
This winter and beyond, let’s all do our part to help the homeless.
For more ways in which you can help the homeless right now, visit crisis.org.uk. A donation of just £10 could be all it takes to help someone take the first steps out of homelessness.