Winter is coming: How can we support the homeless through the winter months?


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Homelessness is dangerous no matter the time of year. The average age of death is just 45 for men who are experiencing homelessness. For women, it's even lower, at just 43 years old.

But, the winter months come with their own unique challenges – frost bite, hypothermia and the extreme cold, to name but a few.  To add to this, the festive season can be especially hard. It’s an incredibly isolating and lonely time for many people who are homeless.

We often get asked about what to do if you see someone sleeping rough. It’s great that so many of you want to help those you see. So, this winter if you see someone sleeping rough, here are five ways you can help.

1. Alert professionals

If you see someone sleeping rough, the best thing you can do is to alert professional services and help that person get the specialist support they need. In England and Wales, you can use Street Link to alert charities to people sleeping rough. Use the Street Link website, mobile app or 24hr hotline to report someone you’ve seen sleeping rough.

The more information you can provide Street Link, the better. A street name, nearest door number or nearby landmark are all helpful. This information is passed onto charity outreach teams who will go out and offer support.

If you see someone sleeping rough in Leeds, Bradford or Kirklees you can contact us directly on 0113 345 2270 or email

2. Donate warm items

Items that can keep people warm are vital in winter. Always ask organisations what donations they accept first, as different charities will have different items they need donating. But hats, gloves and handwarmers are always helpful in winter. You could even carry a few items in your bag to give to people you see while out and about.

But remember, the priority is always to get people help. We want to support people into accommodation, so contacting Street Link and alerting local outreach organisations is vital.

3. Buy a hot meal or drink

If you have the time and money, offering someone a hot drink or meal is a really kind thing to do! We always recommend asking an individual what they would like first, so that they can inform you of any preferences or allergies.  

4. Start a conversation

People experiencing homelessness can often go hours or days without speaking to someone. It is very isolating. Our outreach workers recommend starting by saying hello and asking how someone's day has been. A hello, quick chat and a friendly face can really make all the difference.

5. Fundraise and donate

Donations to homeless charities make all the difference when it comes to turning someone’s life around. Just £10 can pay for coffees and hot chocolate for our evening outreach. £20 can pay for a bus pass for a week to give someone who is homeless a way to attend appointments at different services.

If you'd like to help Simon on the Streets continue to support people experiencing homelessness, have a look at our fundraising pages and fundraising pack for inspiration. You could also take part in Simon's Sleepover!

Winter is coming and for people experiencing homelessness, the cold weather is dangerous. Now you know five ways to help people you see sleeping rough, we’re all ready to do our bit to support people experiencing homelessness this winter.

Do you want to go one step further, and support Simon on the Streets this winter? If so, sign up to Simon’s Sleepover! On Friday 19th November we’re asking you to hold a sleepover in your home or place of work. The only catch is that you can’t sleep in your own bed. Sleep in your garden, make a den or kip on the sofa. Just sleep anywhere but your bed for one night to support people experiencing homelessness this winter. Sign up today.

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