What To Do If You See A Homeless Person Sleeping Rough In The Cold

31 January 2019, 15:30 | Updated: 2 April 2020, 15:07

A rough sleeper in London
A rough sleeper in London. Picture: PA

By Adrian Sherling

With temperatures plummeting below freezing, the homeless are more at risk than ever. This is what you can do to help them.

With the number of rough sleepers more than doubling in the last five years, there are more people than ever that need support.

Reporting Rough Sleepers

There are a number of charities who can offer warm places to sleep for the homeless. If you see a person sleeping rough, report their location to the charities.

StreetLink allow you to report the location of a rough sleeper on their app.

They then send your details to an outreach team who work overnight to meet people sleeping on the streets and transport them to somewhere warmer and safer.

Street Link
Street Link. Picture: StreetLink

You can also call the local council to tell them of where a homeless person is sleeping.

Where are the homeless shelters near me?

Due to the freezing temperatures, there is a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol in place.

This means that local authorities are making more spaces available for rough sleepers and will aim to get them off the streets as soon as possible.

This is a list of homeless shelters in London.

You can find more homeless shelters and services across Britain at homeless.org.

Getting Emergency Help

If you see a person who needs emergency medical treatment, call 999 and ensure an ambulance can give them immediate professional help.

This is also true if you see someone with a child on the streets. Local authorities are required to give children shelter if they need it.

A homeless man asks for spare change
A homeless man asks for spare change. Picture: PA

Should you give money to homeless people?

This is a hot topic at the moment and there is no definitive answer to the question.

Some people want to give homeless people money to help them get off the street, while others prefer to donate to homeless charities rather than the individuals.

The one thing that will definitely help them: a warm drink, food or warm weather equipment such as clothes and blankets will be very gratefully received.

And one thing they often lack - socks. Very few people donate socks, but they are one of the most useful items for people sleeping rough.