Eight Simple Ways To Help The Homeless

Source: Gary Knight/ Flikr

Source: Gary Knight/ Flickr

It’s the coldest time of year and Antonia offers eight practical ways of helping the homeless. 

Last year, the city council announced that Bristol families facing homelessness trebled in just one year. It’s no secret that homelessness is a major problem in Bristol. According to Bristol-based housing and support association 1625ip, last year, 52% of those seeking help with homelessness are under 25. With the government cuts, it’s feared that the number of those at risk of becoming homeless will only continue to increase. I have compiled a list of practical ways to help the homeless if and when you see someone who doesn’t have a bed for the night.

83,000 young people experience homelessness every year… (centrepoint.org.uk)

  1. 1. Offer to buy them a hot drink or food

Simply stopping for a chat to acknowledge a homeless person can go a long way. If you can and want to, offer to buy them a hot drink or some food. It’s one of the coldest months of the year – temperatures have dropped to as low as -4 in the last few weeks. You may not be able to give them a roof over their head but a hot drink or meal can go a long way.

  1. 2. Volunteer your time to a local soup kitchen

If you can’t financially offer them something, if you have an afternoon to spare on the weekends, why not do some research and offer to volunteer at your local soup kitchen? Many of these charities and organisations are completely funded on donations and run by volunteers and would welcome any new keen volunteers.

3. Treat them on an individual basis

Anyone can become homeless – someone you know may be sleeping rough due to hidden homelessness. Stereotyping homeless people in a one-size-fits-all bracket isn’t helpful or fair. Try not to make assumptions if they ask for spare change, ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you give them your money, but once you’ve given it to them it becomes their decision on how to spend it.

4. Get them in touch with one of the following organisations:

Streetlink is a government-funded organisation to get in touch with if you see a rough sleeper in England and Wales. They notify the local authorities of the person in need of help so the local services can take action to provide support. You can call them on 0300 500 0914, visit the website, or download the mobile app on Apple or Android phones.

St. Mungo’s provides beds to those who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness across the south of England. They also provide services for the work place and mental health. For immediate support, they can be contacted via Streetlink as above.

Bristol-based, Nightstop strive to provide temporary and emergency accommodation for young homeless people aged between 18-25. They work with homeowners in Bristol to offer a safe and supportive means of short-term accommodation.

1625ip is an organisation based in Bristol that offers a wealth of different services for young homeless 16-25 year olds. The offer supported housing and aid with the development of homeless young people’s skillset, education, training and job opportunities.

Julian’s Trust Night Shelter, also known as Bristol Night Shelter is based in St. Pauls. The shelter can offer up to eighteen emergency beds a night along with dining and bathroom facilities. It’s run by volunteers on a day-to-day basis; open five nights a week and serves breakfast and dinner.

5. Donate clothes or toiletries that you no longer need

Grace Church collect donations of warm, practical clothing every Sunday to give bulk donations to Julian’s Trust Night Shelter. Alternatively, Emmaus Bristol accept donations in the form of items such as furniture, toys, DVDs and books. Reconsider before throwing away an item you no longer need, it could be of use to someone else.

6. Create your own fundraiser to donate to a charity or shelter of your choice

You can do your bit to raise money and further awareness. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as the ‘invisible homeless’ sculptures we saw peppered across the city during the festive period. It could be a sponsored run, bake sale, or even a sponsored silence. It could be a good way to do an activity with some friends and raise money and awareness of homelessness at the same time.

7. Get involved in a pre-existing fundraiser

If that seems all a bit too daunting to organise, join in with a pre-existing fundraiser. The Julian’s Trust will be hosting a sponsored sleep out on 28th February. Click here for more information.

8. Contact the Mayor, your local MP or Bristol City Youth Council

Rent prices are rapidly on the rise in Bristol and Brighton (two major hubs in the UK with a homelessness issue). A good way of advocating the issue is by bringing it to the attention of the mayor George Ferguson or your local MP. The elected members of Bristol City Youth council exist to voice the concerns of young people to those who make the decisions. If you want to infiltrate the governance of the city via the youth council, they can be contacted online or on the phone

If you have any tips to share, join in the conversation on Twitter. Head to Rife Guide for further information on 1625ip and Bristol Nightstop