World Homeless Day was started in 2010 to raise awareness of homeless issues and ten years on, the issue is more important than ever. Homeless charity St Mungo’s is urging people to Wake up to Homelessness on this World Homeless Day as part of their awareness raising campaign.
The charity is working with partners across the country to help keep rough sleepers and those in hostels, protected from coronavirus and able to self-isolate if they do need to. Poor physical or mental health are often both a cause and consequence of homelessness.
The average life span for a homeless man is just 45 and a woman, just 43, due to health problems, according to St Mungo’s, so identifying and supporting homeless people is vital.
It can be unclear just how you can help someone who is homeless so here is some advice and guidance:
If someone is rough sleeping / on the streets and is unwell, possibly with Covid-19 symptoms you should:
If the person is very unwell, then dial 999 and call an ambulance
Share the details of the person via https://www.streetlink.org.uk/
The information you share will be directed to a local outreach team who will work with housing and health partners to meet the person's needs.
Just how big is the problem in the UK?
According to research by Shelter, around 280,000 people are homeless in the UK – that’s one out of every 200 people roughly. The problem is people think of rough sleepers when talking about homelessness, but they are just the tip of the problem.
The research was published in the Big Issue and estimated there are around 4,000 – 5,000 people sleeping on the streets on any one night, along with thousands of families who are stuck in temporary accommodation such as hostels and bedsits.
There is also the ‘hidden homeless’; these are people staying with friends, sleeping on sofas, living in their cars or outside away from cities, who aren’t seen or counted in the homeless figures, but are still affected with many of the same issues as those sleeping rough in urban areas.
If you are worried about someone who is sleeping rough, you can also get advice and guidance from the St Mungo’s website about what to do and what would happen next, including the option to download the Streetlink app to help you share information about anyone you have concerns about.
Crisis – the national homelessness charity campaigning to end homelessness once and for all - https://www.crisis.org.uk/
Shelter – the homelessness charity which offers support, advice and legal help to people who are homeless or in bad housing. http://england.shelter.org.uk/
St Mungo’s – A homelessness charity working largely in London and the south of England but offering national support and guidance to help get people back into housing. https://www.mungos.org/
Centrepoint – A charity for young people who find themselves homeless or staying on friend’s sofas, offering advice and practical help. https://centrepoint.org.uk/
Citizen’s Advice Bureau – They can help if you are having difficulty accessing housing through your local council. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/homelessness/