Public feels powerless to help the homeless

Crop homeless lady

A homeless woman on the streets of Edinburgh.

The charity is also asking for help to help raise vital funds for its year-round services and its Christmas centres

Graham Martin's photo

4th December 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The majority (61%) of people feel angry, upset, or frustrated about the state of homelessness across the country, but feel powerless to help, a new survey reveals.

A YouGov poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 people across the UK, was commissioned by national homelessness charity Crisis ahead of its Christmas appeal.  

The survey showed that 69% of people feel powerless to help those who are homeless, despite their growing concerns around the country’s homelessness crisis.   

Nearly three quarters (74%) said they are generally worried about homelessness, with 59% saying they are more worried about the situation now than they were five years ago.  

And while most (57%) felt like they should help, almost seven in ten (68%) confessed they usually don’t know what to do when they see someone who is homeless.  

There are 236,000 people experiencing the worst forms of homelessness in Britain today, including those living on the streets, sleeping in cars, trains, and tents, or living in in unsuitable temporary accommodation.   

While the root causes of homelessness can only be tackled by policy changes, Crisis is asking members of the public to be vigilant this winter, providing guidance on how they can help people who have nowhere to turn.   

Most importantly if you see someone sleeping rough, you should contact  the local council in Scotland, to connect that person with the homelessness services in their area. If you have immediate concerns about their welfare, you should call 999. 

There are also things people can do depending on what they are comfortable with, such as providing blankets or warm clothing, like hats, scarfs, socks or gloves .

Or simply stopping for a conversation or offering a kind word – homelessness can be an incredibly isolating experience.

The charity is also asking for help to help raise vital funds for its year-round services and its Christmas centres, which provide shelter, warm meals, and vital services to thousands of homeless people over the holidays. The centres also provide vital medical, housing, and other advisory services to help people take their first steps out of homelessness.  

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “These figures show just how much people care about solving our homelessness crisis and doing something to help those who have nowhere to turn.   

“Ultimately, homelessness can and must be ended. But until then, Crisis’ Christmas centres are a lifeline for thousands of homeless people across the country who would otherwise be sleeping rough in the bitter cold or trapped in often unsuitable temporary accommodation.   

“That’s why we’re asking people to support our work this Christmas and year round – so we can be there for everyone who needs us, and give people in the most vulnerable circumstances support to leave homelessness behind for good.”  

In Scotland, Crisis runs a Christmas centre in Edinburgh from 22 to 29  December.