4 October 2021

More and more Londoners are heading out on public transport due to increased confidence that significant proportions of the public are now double jabbed.

Rising numbers of businesses and companies are also requesting more of their employees to travel into work at least for one of two days a week.

After 18 months of working at home and limited socialising the general public are once again venturing out in large numbers and away from the comforts of their home.

While stepping out into London some of the realities of living in a capital city will once again come to light, namely homelessness.

Many Londoners want to help those that are experiencing hardship such as hunger or homelessness but don't always know the best way how to.

Those that use London Underground may be familiar with vulnerable people asking for money or food while in the carriages rather than sat down in a walkway or outside a station.

The stories these vulnerable people tell to those in the carriages are often heartbreaking and full of trauma but with people rarely carrying cash these days or simply not being in a position to help it can appear that people simply don't care when they remain silent.

MyLondon asked some of the leading homeless charities for their advice on what is the best way to help in these situations.

Crisis

Grant Campbell, Director of Services at Crisis, said: “Homelessness can be an incredibly isolating experience and people can often feel ignored, especially when forced to sleep on our streets or take shelter on public transport. 

"It’s down to personal preference as to whether you give money or not if someone in this situation asks you, but we’d absolutely recommend, if you’re comfortable to, to start up a conversation.

“Through sparking a conversation, you can help combat the isolation that homelessness can bring while also finding out how they are and more about their current situation.

"If you know of homelessness services in the area, like Crisis, then you could signpost to them, or you can signpost to the local council who should be able to provide support out of homelessness. If someone is sleeping rough, you could also refer them to Streetlink, and if you have immediate concerns about their welfare, then please call 999.”

Crisis is the UK national charity for people experiencing homelessness.

Centrepoint

Balbir Chatrik, Director of Policy at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint said: “Ultimately, donating money to a homeless person is a personal choice.

“That said, while a one off bit of change can provide short term support – it isn’t a long-term solution.

“For Centrepoint, public donations and fundraising mean we can get homeless young people off the streets. Once they’re safely housed, we can get them learning valuable life skills, help them tackle any mental health difficulties and support them into education or employment.

“Sadly, while the money you give for to people on the streets may be much needed, it cannot replace that type of longer-term support those rough sleeping desperately need to turn their lives around and leave homelessness behind for good.”

Centrepoint is a charity in the United Kingdom which provides accommodation and support to homeless people aged 16–25.

Streetlink

Fiona Colley, Director of StreetLink, the website, app and phone line that connects people sleeping rough to local support services, said:

“Many people want to help people sleeping rough but are unsure of the best thing to do. This confusion can often lead to inaction. The first thing is to try and do your best to acknowledge someone.

"Smile, stop and say hello if you can and ask how that person is doing. Giving money to someone is a personal decision. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, you can ask your local café to ‘pay it forward’, so the person in question can pick up drinks or food when needed. Another option is to make a regular donation to a homelessness charity.

“However, what is most effective in helping people sleeping rough over the long-term is connecting them with local support services. Making an alert through StreetLink sends local outreach services the exact location of where someone is sleeping as well as their description, allowing the service to go and offer support.

“As we start to leave the pandemic behind, a number of factors are coming together which could mean a rise in the number of people sleeping rough in the next few months. Add to that the cold winter weather on the horizon and it’s clear how important it is people are aware of the best way to connect people in their local area to support.

“I would implore anyone who sees someone rough sleeping and wants to make a positive difference, to send an alert to StreetLink. Just a few minutes of your time could help a person leave homelessness for good.”

Source: MyLondon