For people facing homelessness, life is incredibly difficult no matter the weather. However, extreme weather conditions are especially punishing if you don’t have any protection from the elements.
When we think about homelessness and its challenges, it's easy for our minds to go straight to winter, with images of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Yet the heatwave we experienced in mid-July was incredibly dangerous, and life-threatening, for people living on the streets.
More needs to be done to raise awareness about the seasonal challenges of homelessness and what can be done to help, and that's exactly what this week's blog is all about.
On very hot days, dehydration is a serious danger for people living on the streets.
Dehydration is incredibly dangerous and can progress quickly during hot temperatures. Warning signs include dizziness, exhaustion and confusion, and can eventually lead to seizures and kidney failure.Most of us wouldn't think twice about being able to get a cold drink of water from the tap, but unfortunately for many, that's a luxury they just don't have. Instead, they face a daily battle to get enough fluids.
At Simon On The Streets, our outreach team works tirelessly to make sure that individuals facing homelessness don't go thirsty, and we couldn't do it without your help as last week demonstrated. Your donations of bottled water go a long way in such conditions. Homeless Hampers is just one example of an organisation that donated lots of bottled water during July's heatwave, allowing us to provide even more vital hand-outs.
If you see someone who you believe might be suffering from dehydration, or unwell in any way, it's important to seek help from a medical professional on their behalf. You can also contact one of our team at Simon On The Streets to see how we can help with ongoing support.
There's almost no protection from the sun for those living on the streets. Many of the people we support end up sleeping in the sun during the day, putting them at serious risk for sunstroke. Others stay on their feet, moving around the city, because they feel safer and more protected if they're at risk of violence and abuse.
Whatever their circumstance, with no option to retreat home or turn on a fan when they get too hot, people facing homelessness are trapped outside in the blazing heat all day long, at risk of heatstroke and serious sun burns.
Simon On The Streets always welcomes donations of sun cream during the summer. They go straight to our outreach team, ready to give out to those without shelter.
Everyone deserves dignity, especially when every day is a struggle for survival.
People facing homelessness already have difficulties with hygiene through no fault of their own, which are only made worse in hot weather.
Hygiene struggles are the reality many people face when sleeping rough. They have no access to a shower, or even a sink, which can lead to medical problems such as athlete's foot and exacerbate skin conditions like eczema.
Once someone without a fixed address becomes unwell, accessing health services is a huge challenge. And so the cycle of homelessness continues.
A struggle for shelter
When temperatures soar, finding a spot of shade is just one of the challenges faced by people sleeping rough.
Last week's heatwave only served to highlight the fact that homelessness is a problem every day of the year, and a constant battle for those experiencing it.
At Simon On The Streets, our outreach team offers support to people facing homelessness during every season. With your generosity, we can continue to provide ongoing practical and emotional support to help break the cycle of homelessness.