We all know that homelessness is a major issue across the country. Despite the success of the Everyone In scheme during the lockdown months of 2020, data released by the UK Government has revealed that 68,000 households were homeless or were threatened with homelessness between January and March 2021.
Accurate data on how many people are homeless in the UK is hard to come by, as policy is devolved across the UK. The way in which we count rough sleepers differs and is often a snapshot of the situation on just one evening. In addition to this there are the homeless we can’t see on our streets; in the latest report, 95,450 households were in temporary accommodation.
It is a bleak picture, but they are many ways in which you can help, even in just a small way. Here are just a few ideas, from buying some extra items on your next visit to the supermarket through to getting involved with a local charity.
Buy essential items
A hot or cold drink and food are always a good idea, but access to essential items such as feminine hygiene products and toiletries can be scarce for homeless people. Socks, dog food, suncream, umbrellas, gloves and hats can go a long way to protect a homeless person and their pet from the elements.
Donate to your local foodbank
Many UK supermarket chains have foodbank collection centres you can donate food to, or purchase a pre-packaged bundle. You can also find your local foodbank on the Trussell Trust and Independent Food Aid Network sites. Often, foodbanks will have their own social media channels where they advertise the resources they urgently need, or where they have an abundance of certain items.
Donate to a local or nationwide charity
A wide range of charities working with homeless people, from finding shelter to accessing support for mental health problems or legal advice, assistance with learning new skills or getting into education, employment and training – and so much more. You can give a one-off donation through the Toucan app, or set up a recurring donation to the charities of your choice.
Volunteer with a homeless charity
From nationwide charities like Crisis and Shelter, to your local homeless shelter or charity shop, volunteering your time on a regular basis to raise funds or help those in need access services can make a huge impact.
There are national or regional charities including names many of us recognise but the vast majority are small, local community-based charities. If you are looking to donate through the Toucan app or to volunteer, here are just a few examples of charities you could support. You can find many more in the app. Download the app here.
StreetLink in England and Wales
Street Link connects people sleeping rough to local services. If you see someone over the age of 18 sleeping rough, you can alert Street Link through their website and they will pass on the details to the local authority or outreach service.
Simon Community Scotland
Simon Community Scotland is a charity that runs a number of initiatives across the country, helping rough sleepers in Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and Perth and Kinross access services and locating available accommodation in the two main cities.
Bristol Soup Run Trust
The Bristol Soup Run Trust coordinates a homeless outreach service in Bristol city centre, every night of the year. Around 20 teams provide food, drink and other essential supplies, free of charge, to homeless people and others in need on the streets of Bristol. The teams also help to signpost people to other sources of help in Bristol.
North London Action for the Homeless
North London Action for the Homeless (NLAH) has run sessions for homeless people, the socially isolated, and those in financial hardship in Hackney for over 25 years. As a local charity, 65% of their service users and many volunteers and donors are based in Hackney.
The Whitechapel Centre
Founded in 1975 to meet the needs of the homeless in Liverpool, The Whitechapel Centre believes it is essential to empower and enable people to live independently. It works with some of the most vulnerable, isolated and lonely people in the local community, offering them activity sessions in which they can build confidence, skills and capability.