Homelessness is becoming more and more evident and visible on our streets than ever before. Local authorities estimated that 347 persons were sleeping rough across Wales over two weeks between the 15th and 28th October 2018 (Welsh Government).

Many of us want to help people living on the streets but often don't know how to or the best way to go about this. That's why we have written this short blog with four ways you can help a street homeless individual. Please note these are only guidelines and suggestions. Please always ensure you are mindful of your own wellbeing and safety before helping others. 

1. Have a chat

Talk

Sometimes something as simple as a conversation can make someone's day. People who have experienced life on the streets often talk about feeling invisible to passers-by. Why not change that and take five minutes out of your day to say Hi! According to a recent survey, 8 million people in the UK are only one paycheck away from not being able to sustain their home (Shelter). Therefore, it is important not to prejudge people's situations. 

2. Offer what you can

Offer what you can to help

If you want to offer help to street homeless individuals, essential items such as food and warm clothing would be a good way of helping. As mentioned above, having a chat with the person and asking them what they need can be more useful.

If you feel safe and able to do so, ask the person if they need a drink or any food. Hot food and drinks always go down well, especially in the colder months but ask what they would like. Don't feel offended if they politely decline, they may have already eaten or just had a drink and are simply grateful that you offered. Ask them if there is anything else they might need such as clothing, gloves, hat, socks or even toiletries and sanitary products. 

Homeless organisations including Emmaus South Wales are always grateful for donations of provisions for street homeless individuals, if you would prefer to donate via them. 

3. Signpost 

Signpost to local housing organisations and support

If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough, you can use the StreetLink app or website to send an alert. The details you provide are sent to the local authority or outreach support who will look to find the individual and connect them to support.

Local Authorities work in partnership with local housing organisations to support people who are facing or are threatened with homelessness. Support with mental and physical health and substance abuse will be offered as well as emergency accommodation options such as Floor Space and hostels. A homelessness application can be made 24/7, 365 days a year to the local council. The Housing Solutions team will assess and advise as to options, including any entitlement to temporary accommodation. 

There is also extra provisions and support put in place during the winter period. Please see the Rough Sleeper Provision in Bridgend (Winter 2018) here .

4. Tell them about Emmaus 

Tell them about Emmaus

Emmaus is a unique project with 29 Communities across the UK providing a home, meaningful work opportunities and a future. Emmaus South Wales provides people facing homelessness with 'a bed and a reason to get up out of it' providing they are ready for the next step in their journey. 

Unlike other projects available for people facing homelessness and social exclusion, Emmaus South Wales isn't a hostel or a bed for the night. Emmaus South Wales provides a home for as long as people need and the means to be able to progress to independent living and full time employment. 

Emmaus South Wales accepts self-referrals as well as referrals from other organisations and local councils. More information on this can be found here .

If you would like more information and figures about homelessness in the UK, click here

To find out more about Emmaus South Wales and what the charity is doing to support people facing homelessness click here .