How to Help Effectively
How to help homeless people
Showing kindness to a homeless person could help them to turn their life around. However we need to recognise when it is necessary to involve professionals. Usually the best way to help is to connect them with local services which they may not be able to access without support.
One of the most effective ways of supporting someone is to pass on the details of local day centres and night shelters. Find your nearest shelters on www.homeless.org.uk and pass on details including the address, phone number and opening times of the centres.
Usually the best way to help someone is to put them in touch with local services.
Your council has a statutory duty to house people without appropriate accommodation. However resources are often inadeuqate and subject to tight eligibility criteria - the key criteria are as follows:
- Are they really homeless? Do they have somewhere they could go?
- Are they eligible for help? This is dependent on immigration status and work history
- Are they in priority need? Examples of this are being responsible for dependent chuldren under 18 or having an illness or disability that makes them particularly vulnerable.
- Are they intentionally homeless? Did they leave a home voluntarily?
- Do they have a connection with the borough? Do they have a local connection or do they have family/work in the area?
Don't put yourself or others at risk
Put your own safety first. Assess the risks to people and property and minismise them - have your mobile phone to hand, do not leave valuables or keys in sights and have a plan for what to do in an emergency.
Be friendly but wary
If you have time talk to the individual and listen to their story but do not let uninvited callers into your home or office. Speak in a public place or in sight of other people.
Give appropriate items
Have a stock of non-perishable food to hand to give. Rather than helping, money can feed an addiction and ruin lives. Do not be embarassed about closing the door while getting the food.
Keep an eye out for potential danger. If you are worried about the safety of someone sleeping rought you can call StreetLink on 0300 500 0914. If the homesless person is in immediate danger call an ambulance of the police on 999. Inform the local police on 101 of any abuse so that they can monitor rough sleepers who may be a threat to others. Coversely, if you believe that the homeless person may be an imminent threat to you or to others call the police on 999.
Be Realistic and Effective
Manage expectiations and behaviour
Some homeless people will call regularly, particularly if they are treated wiuth kindness. Be honest with them about the limits of your capacity to help and be clear about the behaviour that is not acceptable around church, for example drinking alcohol, swearing and littering.
Protect the vulnerable
Provide practical help
Many homeless people are vulnerable so take care not to put yourself in a situation where you could be accused of abuse. Remember that you are in a position of power and treat them with compassion.
It is advisable to prepare for homeless callers and to provide practical help to them. Knowing your local services, setting expectations, having the right items ready to give and having rules for behaviour can make a huge impact on how you can help a homeless person and your effect on their life.