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Ways you can help homeless people in Tower Hamlets

Rough sleeping and homelessness is an issue up and down the country. While the amount of people sleeping rough in Tower Hamlets is low due to the hard work of outreach and other services both in and out of the council, this doesn’t necessarily mean that homelessness isn’t something that residents and the council should not worry about.

Here are a few tips on how residents can help homeless people in the area.

1. Keep the Streetlink website loaded on your phone

Streetlink enables the public to alert the council about people sleeping rough in the area. This is the first step that someone can take to ensure that rough sleepers are connected to local services and get the support that is available to them.

You can also download the Streetlink app from the iTunes app store.

2. Let the council know

Make sure you are aware of the council’s homelessness and housing options services.

If someone is homeless or sleeping rough, they can contact the council to find out what housing options are available to them. Once in touch with us, they can access useful help and advice.

3. Invest your spare pennies and pounds into charities that deal with homelessness

It might seem controversial, but pressing a pound into the hand of a homeless person for them to buy a hot drink won’t help them.

Rough sleepers are among the most excluded people in society. Many have been in care as children or in prison as adults and they often suffer with mental and physical health issues. Your spare change won’t fix these problems.

It would be better to donate to charities such as Providence Row, and bigger national charities like Shelter, Centrepoint and Crisis.

All of these charities campaign long and hard with the government to explore ways of alleviating these issues. These charities also support homeless people – training them for work, providing resource centres, housing and feeding them.

Your money will go much further if you give it to these charities.

4. Buy only from licensed Big Issue sellers

The Big Issue is an independent charity that offers people who are homeless the opportunity to earn their own money. If you buy a copy, make sure you only use licensed vendors.

5. Volunteer your time and help people suffering homelessness

Volunteering to help people suffering homelessness is very satisfying. How you can help depends very much on your experience and the way to do this is to contact one of the homeless charities and offer your time. You may have specific skills that can be used but often it is about just being there – a friendly ear that doesn’t judge.

Whatever you want to do, your contribution can have a real impact on the people who may be facing sleeping on the streets.

You can contact Thames Reach or Providence Row to find out how you can help locally.

6. Don’t demonise homeless people! This could happen to anyone

People sleeping rough are no different to anyone else. They’ve just had a hard time in their lives and are extremely vulnerable. Demonising them doesn’t help.

Homeless Link has a page of research which shows what is happening on the ground, and identifies what is working and what isn’t when it comes to tackling homelessness. Have a look at that page and familiarise yourself with this.