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Tips & Advice

How to help people experiencing homelessness this winter

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There are currently over 227,000 families and individuals across Britain who are experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, and winter can be a particularly difficult time. There are fewer support services available, and the cold weather can be brutal for anyone living on the streets.

We believe that everyone should have somewhere they can call home. Home is so important, not only for our physical and mental wellbeing, but also for our dignity and security. Six out of ten people who are homeless experience loneliness and this can be more pronounced during the Christmas period.

Luckily we can all make a difference for homeless people, especially during winter – and it’s not as hard as you think. Here are some ideas.

Connect someone to help

Streetlink is a clever app that allows you to send an alert about someone you might be concerned about who’s sleeping rough (in England and Wales), and connect them with local help services. It’s really easy to use, but you’ll need to give details of the specific location you saw them, what times you’ve seen them, and any details about their appearance.

Donate your unwanted clothes

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Got loads of clothes piled up in your wardrobe? Have a spring clean, and while you’re at it donate some to homeless people – in the colder months, your old jumpers, jackets, socks, hats and gloves could be really valuable to someone who’s sleeping rough with few possessions of their own.

The Salvation Army has clothing banks across the country where you can drop these off, or give them to a Shelter shop.

Donate sanitary products

Many homeless people with a menstrual cycle have a dreadful time each month as they’re forced to go without sanitary products. This is not only uncomfortable, but can be extremely embarrassing and represents a further loss of dignity for some.

Donating sanitary products is a gift that’s more helpful than you’d think. Head to The Homeless Period for more information on their initiative to make tampons and towels available through homeless shelters. You could also just buy something for the next homeless female you see.

Have a chat

Sleeping rough is an isolating experience, made worse by the amount of people that totally ignore the homeless people they walk past each day. Taking a few moments out of your day to introduce yourself and have a chat can make a real difference to someone, and gives their mental health a boost too.

Enter Live Rent Free

Every month, we pay for somebody's monthly rent in our Live Rent Free competition. We then match this sum and donate the same amount to Crisis, to support their work to end homelessness in the UK.
However, once a year we pay for somebody's annual rent, which is a huge amount of cash - and of course, match this sum and donate it to Crisis. Just by entering Live Rent Free, you're helping those in need the most. Enter next month's competition here.

Reserve a place for someone at a Crisis Christmas centre

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Every Christmas, Crisis bring warmth, companionship and vital services to homeless people, and a way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round services.

By donating to Crisis at Christmas you could help someone take their first steps out of homelessness for good. For £29.07, you can provide someone:

  • Help with a safe place to stay
  • Hot meals and a Christmas dinner
  • Access to health and wellbeing programmes
  • Support to leave homelessness behind for good

Crisis' work at Christmas is just the beginning of helping people out of homelessness.

If you want to go further than donating cash, you can also volunteer for a number of homeless charities at Christmas. Crisis, Shelter From The Storm, The Whitechapel Mission and Salvation Army are good places to start (in London).

Photo credit: Kari Shea, Tom Parsons, Howard Lake

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