How to help rough sleepers this winter!
Winter is a time when we start to think about rough sleepers more and more. We worry about those on the streets, we worry about the weather and we ask ourselves can we do more? And we know that our supporters feel the same way, so here is a blog about how you can help this winter:
- Make a financial donation to us (or another homeless charity)
A question we get asked a lot is “should we give money to rough sleepers?” This is a difficult question to answer, because it’s impossible to know the individual circumstances of every person on the street. ‘The homeless’ are not a homogenous group. They are individuals, with individual needs and wants. It’s not as simple as saying “don’t give money to rough sleepers because they’ll spend it on drugs” because the majority of those rough sleeping don’t have a substance misuse problem. However, there are many reasons why we advise people not to give cash to rough sleepers: it can make the recipient a target for theft, it could be used to buy harmful substances….
Instead, we would always encourage people to give their money to registered homelessness charities who will use the money to make sustainable and lasting changes for individuals and who are working towards ending homelessness in the longer term. In an article by the Atlantic they claimed: “If we drop change in a beggar's hand without donating to a charity, we're acting to relieve our guilt rather than the underlying crisis of poverty. The same calculus applies to the beggar who relies on panhandling for a booze hit. In short, both sides fail each other by being lured into a fleeting sense of relief rather than a lasting solution to the structural problem of homelessness.”
We cannot stress enough that donating money is the best way to help our clients. Financial donations give us the flexibility to spend funds on the things that are needed most. It allows us to pay the rent on the buildings that house our projects and clients, to pay the salaries of our staff, to buy resources and ensures the sustainable continuation of our work that helps over 1100 people every year!
If you are interested in making a finical donation click here.
2.Make a gift in kind – hats, gloves, sleeping bags, etc
Not everyone wants to give financially - not everyone can. Gifts in kind can be a great way to share what we have with others. The generosity of the pubic keeps the store rooms at our community hubs stocked with clean, dry clothes, bedding and food for those that would otherwise not have access to these basic needs. This is especially critical in the winter, when our clients face incredibly hard and harrowing physical conditions. When winter draws in we can retreat to our warm houses, our cosy beds, the woolly jumpers come out and we can fire up the heating. But, let’s not forget there are 4,134 individuals in the UK who will be sleeping on the streets every night, rain or shine, snow or sleet. We need your donations of warm clothes, sleeping bags, thick socks, gloves, hats, winter boots and coats to give to our clients.
3. Buy a rough sleepers a hot drink or food
If you feel that you want to give something to a rough sleeper, but you don’t feel comfortable giving money, you can always offer to buy them a hot drink or some food. It is really important to ask first, it could be that person has been given 3 sandwiches already that day and all they really want is a hot cup of tea. Stopping and having a chat with someone rough sleeping and treating them like another human, has a therapeutic benefit to those on the streets and can help us all understand peoples situations. Something we always say at our talks, is the very least you can give someone is a smile! To make eye contact and smile is so important, many of the clients we work with say that sometimes they feel invisible; people walk past as if they don’t exist.
- Refer someone via Streetlink
SteetLink in amazing resource, you can contact them via their website or my calling 0300 5000 914. Their service enables the public to alert local authorities in England and Wales about rough sleepers in their area.
StreetLink offers you a means to act when you see someone sleeping rough, and ensures that people sleeping rough are connected to the local services and support available to them.
- Make sure people are aware of local services
There are a number of services in the area that you can make rough sleepers aware of:
WCHP services - St Clare’s Community Hub in Worthing is open Monday to Saturday from 9 to 12.to provide breakfast, showers, dry, clean clothes and a number of other facilities to meet basic needs. We also provide access to a number of internal and external services from here, including help with housing, mental health and substance misuse. We have another Community Hub in Littlehampton open Monday to Thursday 8:30 till 10 and a drop-in in Horsham open on Monday 9 till 11.
For more info click here.
The winter night shelter will run from 13th November to 18th March in Worthing, for more details on where to get referrals and the different venues please see our home page. Littlehampton does not have a winter night shelter and those rough sleeping will be referred over to Worthing. Horsham night shelter will be running from Friday December 1st 2017 and will close on the morning of Friday March 16th 2018. Check in times each evening is 7-7:30pm and referrals are via our Horsham Outreach Worker on 07934 299205.
Share the Warmth is a Worthing scheme to support homeless people. Cafe customers pay 50p to put a marble in a jar. 3 marbles equals a free hot drink for someone homeless. Cafes involved in this scheme are Munch Worthing Café, The Beach House, Art-Ful, The Black Cat Café, The Denton Café/Bar, The Denton, Lounge Café, Lush Mobile Café, Coffee Cafe (mobile), Coast Café, Smiley's Café, Parklife Coffee and Bakes, View Cafe Bar, Nathan's Mobile Coffee Van and The Bearded Bakers.
There are also a number of faith groups in the area doing amazing work providing hot meals to those rough sleeping:
Monday – 6:30pm at St Mary’s of the Angels, Richmond Rd, BN11 4BJ
Tuesday – 6:30pm at Storm House, 4 Unions Place, BN11 1LG
Thursday – 7pm at Teville Gate Cristina from St Mary of the Angels
Saturday – 6:30pm at Teville Gate, Kingdom of Faith Church
Sunday – 5:30pm at Teville Gate, Jubilee Church
If you want to be directly involved in helping rough sleepers you can sign up to volunteer in a variety of capacities. You can help cook breakfast for our clients at our community hubs or help collect donations in our van. Every volunteer is vital to the running of our services and we rely on people in the community who can offer a huge range of skills to the organisation. Are you good at organising events? Could you organise something that would raise funds for our vital work? Can you cut our clients’ hair? Could you help teach our clients IT skills, art, music or money management?
To learn more about volunteering or to get in contact see our website: http://www.wchp.org.uk/how-to-help/volunteering/