Who Do I Refer A Homeless Person To?

Jul 12, 2022
5 min read
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Homelessness is on the rise, and a lot of people are struggling. You might be concerned because you are worried about a homeless person in your local area.

Many who see people sleeping rough feel helpless, not knowing the right thing to do. It can be deadly if you don't have a place to sleep. The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47, so we must get them off the streets as quickly as possible.

This page explains what you can do to connect people sleeping rough with the relevant assistance they require in England or Wales.

What is homelessness?

You may be worried that someone you know is homeless. But what does it mean to be homeless?

Homelessness is a complex issue and there are many different reasons why people end up without a home. It's not just about sleeping rough, as homelessness can also include families living in temporary accommodations such as hostels and bed and breakfasts, or people staying with friends and family but who don't have enough money to pay for their own place.

There has been a rise in the number of homeless households since the 1980s, which means that more people now live on the streets or in temporary accommodations than ever before.

To make matters worse, there has also been an increase in rough sleepers across the country. At Greater Change we talk at length about the issue of homelessness to help educate others about the topic. 

Refer them to Streetlink

If you see a rough sleeper on the street and want to report them, you can visit StreetLink's website or call 0300 500 0914.

StreetLink is a national service that helps connect people with local services for those living on the streets. It's free, confidential and available 24 hours a day. It's run by Crisis (the national charity working with single homeless people), along with local authorities across England and Wales.

So as well as connecting people with accommodation and other services they need, it also works with councils to ensure that anyone without suitable accommodation to stay in future will have somewhere else safe to go.

The site allows users to search by postcode or town name if they're not sure where they live, so it's easy enough even if you don't know where your nearest homeless shelter is located.

The service also offers advice regarding benefits, housing options and other helpful information that may be useful for someone who has just become homeless (or knows somebody else who has).

What happens after I refer someone?

When you refer a person to StreetLink, their details will be entered into our database and passed on to our outreach workers. The outreach worker will contact the person you are referring to and offer them help.

They can arrange for them to be assessed by a specialist homelessness service or provide further information about advice on where they can find accommodation or other support in the local area.

Every week, StreetLink receives almost 10,000 referrals from across England and Wales. So it's important that we put measures in place to ensure all those who need help get it as quickly as possible.

Street assessment teams

Street assessment teams are workers who visit the areas where people are sleeping at night. The referral may come via a member of the public using the Streetlink hotline or online form or could be a self-referral.

The street contact and assessment service are provided by various organisations, depending on the location.

In London, for example, the charity St Mungo's provides the No Second Night Out service (NSNO), which can refer new rough sleepers to one of three 'hubs' for an emergency assessment.

Where a person has not been rough sleeping before, the outreach worker may refer them to a service which aims to secure immediate accommodation, often in the area where the person was previously living, so that they do not have to sleep out again. In addition, homeless Link provides information on reconnecting rough sleepers to areas where they have support or other connections.

Street assessment teams also give rough sleepers information about available health care, night shelters and hostels, and other resources for homeless people.

Some hostels and night shelters will only take referrals from a contact and assessment team worker. Some outreach teams will work with people on a long-term basis.

The government has produced a map of local outreach teams across England, with their contact details.

What other support is available for rough sleepers?

There is more support available for rough sleepers than you might think. If you're worried about someone sleeping rough, you can contact StreetLink at 0300 500 0914, and they will help with the following:

  • Put them in touch with local hostels and charities that can offer emergency accommodation, support and advice.
  • Providing transport to their next place of safety if they want to leave.

If you are worried about a homeless person, there are things you can do to help them.

If you are worried about a homeless person, there are things you can do to help them. These include:

  • Allowing them to get connected with local support services.
  • Providing food, clothing and other supplies.
  • Getting involved in advocacy work for the homeless community, including working with local organizations that provide direct services or advocate for better resources and conditions for homeless people.


If you are concerned about the welfare of a person who is sleeping rough, please call StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 or visit www.streetlink.org.uk to let them know about the person's location and condition so that outreach workers can help them as soon as possible.

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