The UK is battling the most severe weather conditions in recent history, with temperatures dropping to as low as -7°C overnight.
The Met Office has issued red weather warnings (the highest level) in parts of Scotland and Northern England over the past few days, as well as parts of South Wales and the South West.
While these conditions are difficult for all of us, nobody feels the cold more than people who are homeless. In some cases, sleeping rough in these conditions can even prove fatal.
Walking around your local area, you are bound to encounter people who are living and sleeping on the streets, and it can be difficult to know how to help – which is why we’ve created an easy guide to the practical ways you can make a difference as the Beast from the East takes its toll…
Streetlink is a brilliant and incredibly simple service, available via their website, app, or by calling 0300 500 0914. Streetlink allows you to connect a homeless person with the local authorities, who will be able to provide help or shelter for them.
All you need to do is let Streetlink know where you saw them, and at what time, and they will do the rest.
Streetlink so far only offers this service across England and Wales, so if you live elsewhere, you will need to contact authorities directly.
Contact your local authorities directly
Local authorities across the country have announced that they are opening shelters for homeless people, so that they don’t freeze overnight.
In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that there are over one thousand beds available across different emergency shelters available for the homeless.
Meanwhile in Scotland, local authorities are required to take homeless applications, and give shelter, at least until they have investigated their case.
Offer a hot drink or food
Contacting someone who can help with providing shelter for a homeless person in these temperatures should be your number one priority.
Once you have done this, a kind – and much appreciated – gesture can be to offer a warm drink or some food (or both) to a person in need. This will help provide the energy they need to take the next steps.
Donate to homeless charities
If you’ve battened down the hatches at home and want to know how you can help from your sofa, donations to charities such as St Mungos, Streetlink, Crisis, and Centrepoint are always welcome. Any donation can make a difference to someone’s safety.