Temperatures have dropped all over the UK and Ireland. For some people, this is uncomfortable and disruptive. However, in some cases, the lower temperatures are particularly gruelling, even fatal. The Salvation Army has always provided shelter and support to vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Now it has stepped up its services so that even more people can come in from the cold.
Salvation Army churches (corps) around the UK are assessing each area in which it operates to determine what support is needed versus what is available. It then aims to provide the support that is needed, extending its own services and working with local community charities and agencies to ensure all vulnerable people have somewhere warm and safe to spend the night.
The Salvation Army is opening the lounges at its Lifehouses around the country to extend its accommodation services to all people who need it. Furthermore, it’s providing assistance to local organisations to run their own night shelters and provide warm meals to the increased number of people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough.
The Salvation Army is also increasing its local initiatives to provide daytime and evening drop-in services, warm meals and advice, and night-time outreach to identify rough sleepers and direct them to local organisations offering a warm bed for the night.
Commenting on the situation, Malcolm Page, Assistant Director for The Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services, said, “Rough sleeping is dangerous and cold weather can be very tough for people who are homeless. If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough, you can come to any of our centres where we can make sure the person is signposted to the help they need.”
Page provides some practical suggestions for you to make a difference, including buying someone a hot drink or food, and buying warm clothing, for example, socks. Donating to homelessness charities can also make a difference as it enables them to determine the root causes of homelessness so that they can design initiatives that offer the support needed.
Page said, “If you see someone sleeping rough and you’re concerned – report it. We would suggest contacting StreetLink, which is a phone line, website and mobile app available across England which enables people to alert local authorities to rough sleepers in their area. Give as much detail as you can – this helps the authorities find that person and connect them to local services and support available to them. Simply call 0300 500 0914, send an alert via the mobile app or log on to www.streetlink.org.uk.”
Page adds that you can also visit your local council’s website for 24-hour assistance on what you can do to help someone who is sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness.