Following on from my piece regarding increasing homelessness in the UK Found here I now write regarding the ways we can help Homeless people if we see them on the streets or if we know someone that is sofa-surfing and has no fixed abode.
This help can’t come soon enough with winter setting in and the risks that this entails for people sleeping rough.
Firstly the easiest thing a person can do if they see someone sleeping on the streets is to report to Streetlink. Their website is www.streetlink.org.uk and for ease of use, you can download the Streetlink app to your phone. Streetlink will make a report to the local authority so they can help the person, Streetlink will also follow up after 10 days to find out what action has been taken and update you.
Another suggestion by a Unity News reader is to make up small gift boxes with food and toiletries inside.
If you decide to talk to the person your first assumption may be to give them money and there is much debate about whether you should or shouldn’t give money directly. Personally, if I have the money on me, I’m of the mind to give it to them. They are adults going through difficult times if they choose to spend that money on alcohol, tobacco or even drugs that is their choice and quite frankly if I was in their situation I would want something to numb the realities of my life too. It is up to you. A small conversation to find out what they need, are they hungry/thirsty? You could then choose to buy them what they need instead.
Talking to homeless people can be really positive, they are going through one of the most painful periods of their life and being ignored adds to part of that pain. Asking them how they got to this point in their life, their background including career history could be beneficial for finding them help.
Not all homeless people fit the stereotype of a drunken troubled person. Some are teachers, veterans and other professionals and help is available for people with such a career history in the form of trusts/grants.
We often see memes on social media relating to veterans living on the streets but no information on how they can be helped. It came to some surprise to me that there are an extensive amount of organisations that offer help in times of need for our veterans.
First Light Trust offers support to veterans in many ways, one of those includes help with getting them back on their feet if they are threatened with homelessness or are indeed homeless. You can contact them on 01723 361210.
Amicus Trust focuses on helping homeless veterans and you can contact them on 01234 358478.
The Royal British Legion offers various ways of helping veterans that are in need in many forms but offer help to tackle homelessness for veterans they can be contacted on 0808 802 8080
The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, which helps seafaring military service men and women or their wives/children, they can be contacted on 02392 690112.
The SSAFA offers help to serving and ex-military and can be contacted on 0800 731 4880.
Help for serving and ex-civil servants is also available via The Charity for Civil Servants For You By You, they are contactable by phone on 0800 056 2424.
The Insurance Charities can help existing employees and ex-employees and can be contacted on 0207 606 3763.
A Trust fund set up for current and former BT employees can be contacted via 0208 726 2145.
Probation and Family Courts Staff
The Eldridge Fund is set up to help staff working on Probation, and the Family Courts CAFCASS service.and can offer financial assistance they can be contacted on 0203 397 7025.
Rail Industry Staff
The RBF is the only charity working exclusively for people associated with the rail industry who find themselves in need. They offer services to current and former railway workers and their families who face financial difficulties through illness, injury, bereavement, and adversity.
For further information visit: www.railwaybenefitfund.org.uk
Public Transport Staff
The Public Transport Benevolent Fund is a charity set up to help those working in the public transport sector but costs £1 a month to be a member. However, if you are a member and in crisis. You can find further details here http://www.tbf.org.uk/index.html
Post Office Staff
The Rowland Hill Fund is ready to help financially Royal Mail and Post Office people past and present and their dependents. Call 0800 6888 777, option 1 then option 4. Complete confidentiality.
With stagnating wages and a housing crisis, even teachers and school staff are increasingly having trouble with secure housing and can find themselves homeless. The Education Support Partnership may be able to help and can be contacted on 08000 562 561.
RCN Foundation offers financial aid to nurses in their times of need and can be contacted on 0207 647 3645.
Cavell Nurses Trust offer support to Nurses, Midwives and Healthcare Assistants and can be contacted on 01527 595999.
If a person has worked in retail for at least two years RetailHUB may be able to help those in need and can be contacted on 0808 801 0808.
These charities offer billions of help to individuals each year but they are little known and can be hard to find. In 2014 Turn2Us began featuring a grant search facility which can be personalised to career history along with personal circumstances and can help find further Financial help, which may help the homeless or someone that is at risk of becoming homeless amongst other less urgent times of need. Their website address is https://www.turn2us.org.uk.
Almost all occupations are catered for by these financial grants along with more obscure data such as religion, family history, and health issues so it is well worth searching in case someone out there can offer help to someone you know that needs it.
Prior to writing this, I had no idea there was charitable help available to so many people and my hope is that raising awareness of these charitable institutions will help ease the struggles of many this winter.
If you wish to find out more about the issues surrounding homelessness or other organisations that help them, please find a small list of websites below. If I have missed anything you think is important that should be added to this article then please add to the comments section. No one should be left outside in the cold and any help and advice for helping homeless people are greatly appreciated.