With at least 320,000 homeless people in the UK, the time to help has never been more prevalent. Read on below to find out how to help the homeless this winter and beyond.
Homelessness is a complex societal challenge and I could write a whole piece about why so many people end up in this situation. In reality, there is no single reason why someone can end up without a home. Personal circumstances and wider factors both play their part.
It’s quoted that there are at least 320,000 people struggling without a home, but in reality, this figure is likely much higher given the real level of homelessness is notoriously difficult to measure. The positive is that there are loads of things you can do to drive change…
Start a conversation/Give your time
So many people experiencing homelessness feel isolated. Speaking to someone in need could make a real difference to their day. Even giving ten minutes of your time to ask how someone is doing can make a world of difference to someone’s day. Often homeless people are denied human contact leaving them to feel overlooked or invisible.
If you’re unsure how to landing a conversation in the right way, just open with getting down on their level and start with a hello and tell them your name. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, there’s some great advice in this article on speaking to those who are homeless on sbs.
Make a donation/Fundraise
Giving money to those struggling with homelessness is sometimes a tricky subject as sometimes people feel uncomfortable doing this. If you’d like to show your support financially you can donate to the wealth of national charities such as Shelter, The Salvation Army, Crisis, Streetlink, St Mungos, Depaul, Centrepoint, The Big Issue Foundation, Emmaus and Homeless Link.
However, it’s worth scoping out your local shelters, soup kitchens and food banks as these often get minimal support and don’t have the same advertising budgets as some of the bigger national charities.
Help at a shelter/soup kitchen
As mentioned above, often local shelters, soup kitchens and food banks are desperate for volunteers as well as donations. From cleaning to event support to even allotment volunteers, there’s a wealth of roles you can help with – especially if you’ve got skills from your job that you can bring to the table.
Create support packs
It may seem like an obvious challenge but most people that are homeless don’t have access to the wealth of necessities that we often take for granted. If you have the spare cash, putting together packs of basics like toothbrushes, toothpaste, clean underwear and socks and handing these out to those in need can really help.
Remember the vulnerable
Doing just one of the above will make a difference to individuals that are living on the streets, but there’s also many other vulnerable members of society that you can help.
Contributing to local food banks with surplus food supplies means that many living below the poverty line can have access to food and hygiene supplies when they’re struggling. The Trussel Trust is a great service that provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. You can search on The Trussel Trust website to find food banks near you.
Do you have other ways to support the vunerable people near you?