‘Homelessness’ is a general term that covers everyone without a home; from the highly visible rough sleepers, who take shelter in doorways and street corners, to the hidden homeless, who are precariously staying in temporary accommodation (hostel beds, B&Bs or staying with friends).
As the temperature drops and winter weather takes hold, it’s even sadder to see the number of rough sleepers on our streets and to think of the people who are 'hidden homeless', struggling every single day. As the homeless charity, Crisis, states, “Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating.”
So, how can we help?
First and foremost, there are several charities that have the expertise, structure and experience to help the homeless in the most constructive ways. Crisis has a big centre on Surrey Street, Croydon, and offers education, training and support. Evolve Housing + Support also offers support that extends beyond simply finding someone a night’s accommodation.
These charities welcome volunteers, donations and fund-raising activities, such as the Sleep Out at Boxpark Croydon that Evolve Housing +Support organised this year, and Croydon BID will be sponsoring again in 2020.
They also ensure that the money raised is used to help the most vulnerable homeless, in a way that can have a truly positive impact on people’s lives.
Rough sleepers are very vulnerable to violence; with one in three having been assaulted whilst on the street (Crisis report, 2016). With the worsening weather, they may also be at risk of illness, or even hypothermia. If you are concerned about the welfare of a rough sleeper, you can send a message, by downloading the free StreetLink app, which will be redirected to the appropriate Outreach team through the London-wide StreetLink scheme. This enables a professional Outreach worker to find and support the rough sleeper.
Croydon BID’s Business Crime and Safety Manager, Rebecca Molloy, advises.
“If you are concerned about the welfare of a rough sleeper, it’s best to contact StreetLink and make a report online. However, if it is an emergency, then always ring the police or ambulance services on 999.
It is far better to offer food or drink to the people sleeping rough, donate your money to charities, or volunteer to support local organisations in their efforts to support this serious issue.
In order to best help the homeless in Croydon, the overriding advice is to support the charities that have the professional expertise and experience to offer the services that will truly help the most vulnerable people.
Also, don’t forget to download StreetLink so you can report a rough sleeper if they seem at risk, or in need of help or assistance. Instead of giving spare change, give food or drink, volunteer or fundraise with a charity, or buy the Big Issue.
For further information please contact London Borough of Croydon, Evolve Housing + Support, Crisis or Thames Reach.
Street Link: https://www.streetlink.org.uk/
Croydon Council: https://www.croydon.gov.uk
Evolve Housing + Support: https://www.evolvehousing.org.uk/
Thames Reach: https://thamesreach.org.uk/