Practical guide on what to do when you see someone who is sleeping rough.

On several occasions, we have been asked this question,” What to do when I come across someone who is sleeping rough?”. We have also observed that quite often people have the desire and goodwill to help but don’t know how to.

This is why we decided to create a practical guide with some recommendations about how to support people sleeping rough. But don’t forget everyone has different needs.

  • Introducing yourself and asking how they are shows dignity and respect.
  • ‘How can I help you?’ can also be a powerful question. Ask them what they need or might want at that moment.
  • Should I give them money? If you can, why not?  Giving should always been done without judgement.
  • Food and practical items can also make a difference. Please ask before you do, since they may have eaten already and food isn’t as tasty when it gets cold.
  • Hot Caffeinated drinks can act as a diuretic or a Laxative and toilets aren’t always accessible to someone living on the streets.
  • Check if they have informed the Council or any other outreach service about their homelessness. This is very important and if they haven’t, here is what you can do:

    • Refer them to StreetLink - - This organisation exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.
    • Important: If possible find out where the person plans to sleep tonight (even if the person doesn’t want to speak about it, you can describe them to Streetlink and where they are ‘bedded down’ without speaking to them).
    • You can also refer them to us at Trinity but if they want to be referred they need to contact the local council in person - 
  • Can they contact a family member? It can also be the Council or their GP. It is very likely that they may not have a phone or credit, so you can offer to make the call for them or give an amount for them to buy credit with.
  • Contact 111:  If the person seems unwell, contact 111 for advice. Ask the person if he or she would be ok with you making the call. 
  • Note: When to call 111? You should call 111 when you need advice or medical treatment quickly, and you cannot wait for an appointment to see your doctor. If you need emergency medical treatment, you must call 999. An emergency is when someone needs medical help to save their life.
  • Are there local kitchens or day centres nearby? You can look them up and help the person to receive cooked food. These initiatives are often run by the Salvation Army or local church groups.
  • Call Trinity for advice! Email our inbox or call us on 020 8797 9500. It will be our pleasure to serve you.

Let’s end homelessness together.

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