What should I do if someone is homeless and asks me for help?

By Rebekka

You might be asked for help by a person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness, whether this is outside on the streets, someone reaching out to your church, or in your personal life. You might be talking to someone who was just evicted from their home today, a person who has been staying with friends for a number of months, or someone who has been rough sleeping for a while. As situations can be so varied and complex, and housing is not easy to come by in London, it is crucial to refer someone to a specialist homeless service who are equipped to support people who are homeless, and to deal with the often complex issues they might be facing

Let them know about the homeless day centres in your area.

At a day centre, they will not only be able to access a warm and safe place to stay during the day, free/ cheap food, showers, or clothes stores, but in addition all day centres also offer specialist advice and support to help people get into accommodation. Day centres are easy to access, anyone can simply drop in during opening hours. With their expertise, they are the best first point of contact for someone to access the housing support and advice they need and deserve. The two day centres in Southwark are: the Manna Centre near London Bridge, and the Webber Street Day Centre near Waterloo. In Lambeth, we’ve got the Ace of Clubs in Clapham, and Spires Day Centre in Streatham. For day centres in other areas, you can check out The Pavement service directory here.

Be aware that the council might not be in a position to help them.

Councils have a duty to provide some, but not all, homeless people with accommodation. In order to access housing through the council, a homeless person will have to fulfil a number of criteria, and many single homeless people in particular do not meet the threshold. It can be frustrating for someone to present to the council as homeless only to be turned away. A day centre will be able to advise whether someone is owed a duty to be housed by the council.