Whilst most of us relish the hotter months – a chance to top up the tan, have a barbecue and explore the great outdoors – for homeless people, it can be a treacherous time, and one that could potentially be life-threatening.
This week we’re expected to see temperatures soar to above 30°C, and for those without a place to shelter, this can lead to a high risk of sunstroke, sunburn and dehydration.
Luckily, there are plenty of small steps you can take to help keep homeless people safe at this time.
1. Get your umbrellas out
If you’ve got any old umbrellas lying around, why not give them to a rough sleeper? Not only are they great in winter for a bit of shelter when it’s raining, they’re perfect for this time of year too, offering a bit of respite from the sun in extreme heat.
2. Give away your sunscreen
We know sunscreen can be a little pricey, but if you have some left over from your holiday, or have a couple of bottles sitting in your cabinet, hand one out to a rough sleeper – sun protection is oh-so important to someone who is out in the elements all day. The higher the SPF, the better.
3. Freeze some bottles
There is nothing better than rubbing an ice-cold bottle across your forehead on a balmy day. So stick a couple of travel-size bottles filled with water in your freezer (anything too big will be too heavy for rough sleepers to carry with them). This way, their purpose becomes two-fold: a nice cooler to rub on the skin, and then a refreshing bottle of crisp, cold water to drink.
4. Give out water-rich food
If you’re able to hand out some food, that’s great too! Keeping in mind the time of year and the weather, try giving out more refreshing foods with a high water content: fruit such as oranges, watermelon, apples and pineapple will help, as will veggies like cucumber and tomatoes.
5. Hand out your hats
In winter people tend to donate their old coats and scarves, but summer is a great time to donate old clothes too. Giving away old caps, hats and sunglasses that you no longer wear will help prevent sunstroke and eye damage.
6. Contact emergency services where necessary
If you see someone suffering from sunstroke or needing urgent medical attention due to the heat, or for anything else, don’t hesitate to call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
7. Contact StreetLink
If you’re based in England or Wales, rough sleepers can be referred to StreetLink. Just call 0300 500 9014, or download the Streetlink app, which allows you to send an alert when you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough. They will help you to connect a person sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.
8. Contact Centrepoint
And of course, for vulnerable young people sleeping rough, you can contact our Helpline team on 0808 800 0661, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, and they will provide that young person with help and guidance in order to get them into safe accommodation.