1. Be informed
It can be hard daunting to know how to help people on the streets. Should we give money? Should we stop and talk? Where can they go to find help?
Begging is a sensitive and complex issue. According to Cambridge Street Aid
, “there are lots of reasons why people beg on the street. Each person has their own story to tell, and many of us instinctively want to give money to someone we think needs our help. But giving money directly to people on the streets can actually keep them on the streets for longer.”
So what can we do to help people on the streets?
If you have time, stop and talk with them. Ask them their first name and share yours.
If someone asks you for money, look them in the eye when you respond and speak as confidently as you can.
If you have the time and money, offer to buy them a cup of tea, or a sandwich or pasty.
Know what local services are available (see below). This allows you to ask the person if they know about these and whether they have used them.
If you are worried about the vulnerability of someone sleeping rough then contact Street Link on 0300 500 0914 to inform them. This is a coordinated phone line to help inform the Outreach teams who work on the streets to help homeless people. If you are worried that a homeless person is in immediate danger, then phone 999.
There are a number of local agencies in Cambridge which work to provide accommodation and support to homeless and rough sleeping people. Some of these are listed below:
Provide support and advice to help those who sleep or spend much of their time on the streets. The Street Outreach Team can help people into accommodation and to address other problems.
Offers short-term, emergency accommodation for men and women who might otherwise have to sleep rough. In addition to a bedroom and meals, Jimmy’s provide a range of support and resettlement services. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Wintercomfort - Overstream House, Victoria Avenue, CB4 1EG
Provides free breakfast, shower and laundry to those sleeping rough or unsuitably housed. They also organise various activities including work placements, training and workshops, with trained staff able to advise and signpost to support services. Open Mon-Fri 8.30-10.30am; Sat 8am-noon
GP Surgery providing health services for homeless people. Drop-in sessions weekdays 9.30am-10.30am.