When most people see a homeless person on the street, they want to help out – but we are often unsure of how to assist the person.
Homelessness is a serious issue in Lincolnshire. A recent study claimed that on Christmas Day 2016, over 400 people in the county woke up on the street.
Organisations also agree that homelessness is rising, both locally and nationally.
So what is the best thing to do if you see someone sleeping rough on our streets?
The truth is, it is difficult for people to do anything directly. Most people lack the knowledge or experience to make in long-term change in someone’s life, particularly if they are in difficult circumstances.
Lincolnshire YMCA agrees with the idea that giving money to people begging probably is not the best idea.
Rachael Hewitt from Lincolnshire YMCA said: “There are support services available that can provide shelter, food and clothing should this be needed and people need not beg.
“This causes problems for local businesses, residents and those visiting the city. As a charity, we work with homeless individuals to remove the need to beg and deal with the problems individuals are facing.”
Instead, the best thing to do if you are concerned about someone is to ring the professional services. They are better equipped and having the training to deal with people’s needs.
Jonny Goldsmith is the operations manager for P3, a charity that focuses their support on socially excluded and vulnerable people, like those who sleep rough.
His advice is for members of the public to contact them.
Jonny told Lincolnshire Reporter: “P3 has two support teams. One goes out from 5am to find rough sleepers on the streets, see to their needs and help them to exit the streets if possible.
“The other is a temporary support services for people who need an urgent place to sleep.
“If people see someone they’re concerned about who’s rough sleeping, they should call our free phone number straight away.
“We can find the person and advocate on their behalf. However, our services cover all of Lincolnshire, so we rely on the public’s intelligence to direct them where they’re needed.”
“Our Street Outreach team goes out in the early hours of the morning in order to make contact with people who are sleeping on the streets of Lincolnshire. We will assess their needs, offer advice and advocate on their behalf – to ensure that they receive the support services they require.
“We cover such a large area that we rely on the general public to help us identify those people who are rough sleeping. I would urge anyone who sees someone rough sleeping to contact our Freephone number, that way allowing us to direct our support to those in need.’’
P3’s number is 08082810280. They can also be contacted on [email protected].
Other services that people can call if they are concerned about a person sleep rough are:
- The Nomad Trust (01522 883703 for daytime and 07376 906789 for out of hours)
- StreetLink (0300 500 0914 or streetlink.org.uk).
StreetLink also have an app available from the Apple or Google Play stores which people can use to alert the service.
Of course, if you see somebody whose health is in immediate danger, call the emergency services on 999 straight away.
There is one way to help vulnerable people in your area though, and that is volunteering. Giving your time free of charge can be valuable, especially when services are short of manpower.
Volunteer queries should be directed to: [email protected] or 01522 508388.
The P3 website also has a variety of volunteering opportunities around Lincolnshire.
The Volunteer Street Buddy role requires people to support professional Outreach Workers in responding to referrals or working with established rough sleepers.
Get in touch with P3 by [email protected]
Just how big a problem is homelessness in Lincolnshire? Let us know your thoughts on what can be done in the comments below or by emailing [email protected]