Help for the homeless

Well l am sure those forced to live on our streets are well aware of the help available to them all year around, but the agencies are also keen to broadcast specific information for this time of the year.

As part of the Bath & North East Somerset Council and Homeless Partnership Julian House and DHI are offering a room for anyone who needs it in severe weather at any time of the year.

A number of cafés across the area have also signed up to help rough sleepers by providing warm spaces and a hot drink during the day. The Genesis Lifeline Centre also offers daytime facilities, including on Saturday mornings from December 3.

At Manvers Street Hostel in Bath, there is a takeaway food provision available for clients who are street rough sleeping. This is available for breakfast from 7am to 10am, lunch from 1pm to 2pm and dinner from 7pm to 8pm.

Anyone concerned about someone they have seen sleeping rough can alert the partner services via the StreetLink, website or by calling 0300 500 0914 so that the person can be connected with local support. If the person is under 18, people need to contact the police.

People wishing to donate or volunteer to help people who sleep rough are asked to contact one of the Homelessness Partnership agencies to find out what they need.

In Bath, Nationwide Building Society on Stall Street also has a ‘Tap and Donate’ point for contactless donations. Julian House administers the fund to help equip people with the items they need when they are moving on from sleeping rough.

BillyChip is a platform that allows the public to directly donate to rough sleepers without the fear of their donation being misused. The chips can be bought and redeemed in coffee shops and takeaways for food and drink. People can look out for the BillyChip symbol in café windows.

People are asked not to donate items that enable people to prolong a life on the streets, including tents and bedding. The most dangerous item given to people sleeping rough is a camping gas stove. They can be lethal if they are used inside tents. Giving any equipment can lead to a person becoming less likely to engage with services that can make long-lasting improvements to their lives.

Councillor Alison Born, cabinet member for Adult Services and Council House Building, said: “We want to reassure anyone at risk of homelessness or already sleeping rough that there is a room available if you need it. There is no need to sleep rough in bad weather conditions during any season of the year. There are also places opening their doors during the day where people can stay warm and have a hot drink. If you are looking for ways to help people who are homeless, it’s important that you get in touch with us, Julian House or DHI to see what help is needed at the moment. That way, your kindness and compassion will reach the right people and get them the support they need.”

Cecil Weir, Fundraising Director at Julian House, said: “Homelessness is very much a 365 days a year issue. Now that the winter months have arrived it becomes much more challenging on the streets because of the weather and the increased risk of illness. The extra accommodation capacity that is available is hugely helpful but rough sleepers don’t always appreciate the risk that they run. This is where the public’s support is vital – using the Streetlink hotline to tell us if they see someone on the streets.” 

Rosie Phillips, CEO at DHI, said: “There is no need for anyone facing homelessness to go hungry or to sleep rough. Supported housing enables people to overcome the barriers they are facing and live a fuller, independent life and DHI offer access to all sorts of support for people with issues linked to harmful drug or alcohol use, poor housing or mental ill-health. However, for those who do fall through the cracks, and end up on the streets, Bath & North East Somerset Council, Julian House and DHI are offering a room for anyone who needs it, at any time of the year.”

The council has also co-ordinated a directory of warm spaces which can be found here: https://livewell.bathnes.gov.uk/warm-places-list

Contact details for the Homelessness Partnership organisations are