6 ways to help homeless young people in cold weather
With temperatures dropping across the country, here are Centrepoint's tips on what to do if you see someone out in the cold.
1. Refer them to StreetLink
StreetLink allows members of the public to connect young people sleeping rough with the local services and homeless charities that can support them. This is the easiest way to find young people out on the streets immediate support in cold weather.
You can download the StreetLink app from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.
You can also call their 24 hour helpline on 0300 500 0914 or visit their website.
When you send an alert, you should include:
- A specific location where the young person is sleeping
- The time you saw the young person at this location
- Any information about the young person that will help outreach workers find them (for example, gender, age, what the person looks like, what they’re wearing)
If you can, it’s probably best to let the young person know you’re referring them, as they may not want their details shared with other agencies. You can also ask them if they’re happy to pass on their mobile number so it’s easier for outreach workers to contact them.
2. Stop and talk to the young person to see if there's anything they need
This could include food, drink, thermals, bedding, a travelcard, Vaseline or a reusable water bottle.
While long-term help for homeless young people makes the biggest difference, having a conversation over a cup of tea can be really important.
3. Get in touch with your council and ask about SWEP
SWEP stands for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol and provides emergency support for rough sleepers when the temperatures drop drastically. During SWEP, councils open extra beds in night shelters as well as other services.
This is dependent on guidelines, but it’s worth checking with your council to see if SWEP is in operation during cold weather and how those sleeping rough can access it.
4. Refer young people to day centres
Day centres offer practical help such as a hot meal and access to showers and laundry facilities.
If you have some spare time, you might also be able to volunteer at a day shelter if they need an extra pair of hands.
5. Call the emergency services
If someone appears to be in immediate danger or seems unwell, please call 999.
6. Call the Centrepoint Helpline
Our Helpline is here to offer advice to anyone in England aged 16-25 who’s homeless or at risk.
We listen, we advise and we connect homeless young people to the right services.
Call us for free on 0808 800 0661 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).