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5 Ways to Help the Homeless This Winter

Around 274,000 people were classified as homeless last winter, with over 2,000 of them found to be sleeping rough. This year that number is expected to increase, with even more people finding themselves living on the streets across England without a roof over their head.

Here are 5 ways that we – the general public – can provide help & support to those in need as the temperatures plummet.


Ask Local Council about SWEP

SWEP stands for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, and comes into force when temperatures drop drastically. It is in place to provide emergency support for rough sleepers during adverse weather conditions. 

Depending on your local councils guidelines, support during SWEP provides additional emergency accommodation. There are varying guidelines and extra services for each council, so it’s worth contacting your local one here


Call Homelessness Helplines

There are several helplines that provide help & support for the homeless.

Shelter offers expert, confidential advice on 0808 800 4444.

CentrePoint provide help for homeless (or anyone at risk) aged 16-25, on 0808 800 0661.

HomelessLink has a list of homeless charities & support services you can call across the UK. Their website has a search function to find the ones nearest to you.

NoSecond Night Out can help to provide a place to sleep on 0870 383 3333.


Refer Them to Streetlink

Streetlink is a charity that allows the general public to connect rough sleepers with local support & homelessness charities. By sending an alert (detailing the location, time & any information to make them easily recognisable), it allows immediate support to be provided to someone in need.

You can do this via the Streetlink website or through the app. It is best to let the person know you will be referring them, as they might not want their details shared.


Refer Them to Day / Night Shelters

Across England, day shelters provide rough sleepers with hot meals, laundry & shower facilities. Night shelters offer a place to sleep for the night, and may offer other services at no cost, or for a small charge.

You can find your nearest shelters by using the Homeless Link’s directory linked above, or by calling the CentrePoint Helpline on 0808 800 0661.


Ask if They Need Anything

If you’re concerned about the welfare of someone during this winter, take a moment to ask if there’s anything you can do to help. 

This could be something as simple as offering warm food or drink, some thermal clothing, bedding, a reusable water bottle or a travelcard.

Whilst long-term help does make the biggest difference, providing something listed above could be a life-saving action.