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Most effective way(s) to support homeless people?

(229 Posts)
Cocorico Wed 06-Dec-17 17:01:50

Would be really interested to hear your thoughts/guidance on this please.

I live in London at the moment, and I see a lot of homeless people every day.

I'm sure that there are also a lot of homeless people in other towns and cities across the U.K., and that the number of people in this situation will either increase or decrease over time depending on various factors e.g. the amount of social security available to people who are struggling financially.

Anyway... my question is (AIBU to ask) how can we help homeless people most effectively?

Is it best to:
A) give money to people directly

B) to help in a more indirect way (for example, by donating to charities involved in helping homeless people or people in financial difficulty, volunteering for these charities, donating to food banks, helping out at food banks or any other way)

C) to do a combination of both A and B.

Thanks very much.

GlitterGlue Wed 06-Dec-17 17:08:36

Give to charities who support homeless people. Organisations that work with the homelessness are very vocal about street giving not being helpful - not least because many of the homeless aren't homeless.

allertse Wed 06-Dec-17 17:12:30

I'm interested to hear thoughts on this too.

I generally donate to Shelter. Sometimes I give money directly to them, I don't judge what they spend it on but I hate the thought that the money I give them could facilitate the hit that kills them sad But offering to buy food feels so patronising.

I might start donating to drug-related charities too, as realistically I think most people on the streets probably have issues preventing them from taking advantage of spaces in hostels or the like.

araiwa Wed 06-Dec-17 17:12:36

Give them a room in your house

ScrabbleFiend Wed 06-Dec-17 17:18:50

There was a scheme running in my home city where people were invited to drop off rucksacks at a drop off point full of stuff useful for those living on the street, it was really successful. My colleagues and I all participated and as well as decent sleeping bags we filled them with toiletries, sanitary products etc. Doesn't seem to be happening this year but maybe you could coordinate something like this with a homeless charity. Ours was successful I think due to social media.

GlitterGlue Wed 06-Dec-17 17:19:18

That won't work, unless you also happen to have the specialist skills to dal with the issues that resulted in someone becoming homeless in the first place.

Cocorico Wed 06-Dec-17 17:19:34

Araiwa if your post was meant to be taken seriously, a lot of people aren't able to do this for lots of different reasons. Your post comes across as a bit flippant, even if it's meant to be serious.

user1472333009 Wed 06-Dec-17 17:21:57

I sometimes buy them a drink & something to eat or I give them money, to spend as they wish. I always think me not giving money to them won't stop them drinking or taking drugs. If (God forbid) i found myself homelsss i think I'd need a drink.
I also give to homeless charities & volunteer.
A really good idea is to fill a rucksack with essential items. Toothpaste/ brush, comb, deodorant, poncho, sanitary items for women, socks, gloves, hat, chocolate & give it to them.
It's a difficult one

scurryfunge Wed 06-Dec-17 17:23:47

Our town has a great charity that assists homeless people. They make direct appeals for indiduals as and when needed- food, sleeping bags, tents, permission from anyone willing to provide a bit of land for a couple of nights,etc.

CactusCactusCactus Wed 06-Dec-17 17:25:37

I have also thought about this a lot recently. There are some good articles out there if you Google, will have a look later but can't myself right now.

I donate to charities. I learnt from something I read that shelters don't charge. So the old "need some money to pay for a shelter" is just not true. As far as I know... happy to be corrected.

Dozer Wed 06-Dec-17 17:28:16

I prefer to do A.

Dozer Wed 06-Dec-17 17:28:35

Sorry, meant B!

Nomad86 Wed 06-Dec-17 17:59:06

There's an app called Streetlink. You can 'report' (in the kindest sense) anyone you see sleeping rough. Include any info such as time, date, location etc and an appropriate charity will be notified so the person can be offered any available help.

I feel uneasy giving to homeless people sometimes and being unsure of how the money will be spent. Another option is to give food, blankets etc but know the long term, local charities will have the resources to do more.

yorkshapudding Wed 06-Dec-17 18:39:55

If you wanted to focus on preventing homelessness then you could consider donating to organisations that support people with mental health issues. Mind, Rethink and Young Minds are good examples. People with chronic mental health problems are much, much more likely to end up homeless than the rest of the population.

Cocorico Wed 06-Dec-17 18:50:31

Brilliant ideas so far - thanks so much everyone!

SallyVating Wed 06-Dec-17 18:54:41

Round here I've got to know the local homeless so we chat and I give them a couple of quid when I have it. Also I give to local projects. Big charities are a scam unfortunately

balia Wed 06-Dec-17 19:00:53

I give money, plus have a chat, shake hands etc. But I don't live in London where I imagine the problem is much worse. Homeless people are still adults, and best placed to decide what to do with money. I also donate for foodbanks.

And as soon as we can, vote for a government that will genuinely commit to eradicating homelessness, not put policies in place that have increased homelessness by 132% since 2010.

RestingGrinchFace Wed 06-Dec-17 19:05:29

B. There are underlying issues causing the homelessness beyond a mere lack of funds.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Wed 06-Dec-17 19:08:51

A little bit of everything tbh. Shelter is wonderful of course but you might find you’ve got a more local homeless charity too, less funded than national charities. And, especially at this time of year, one of the greatest things you can do for them will probably be give them some of your time, Christmas Day dinner provision for instance.

Crumbs1 Wed 06-Dec-17 19:08:53

I think there are numerous ways both local and national. Some don’t cost much.

Don’t vote Tory as a starting point.
Smile and say hello, loneliness can be as awful as hunger.
Ask if they’d like a hot drink or Sandwich and check what the like.
Volunteer at homeless shelter or soup run.
Buy the Big Issue and get to know vendor.
Report crime and violence towards homeless.
Locally we have a coat exchange in city centre - people givevold coats and anyone that wants one can just take one.
If you’re a festival goer leave your tent for redistribution.
Fundraise for support charities. I agree some use a lot in administrative costs though.

One of my proudest moments as a parent was when drunk son’s drunk friend told me that after leaving a club, my son had gone into a kebab shop and bought half a dozen kebab and chips which he then gave out to rough sleepers in the area. Now kebabs would not be my choice of meal but I guess they are warm and filling and were given with compassion.

ISpeakJive Wed 06-Dec-17 19:15:18

Give them a room in your house

I wouldnt advise that at all. Didn’t you hear the tragic story of Tracey Wilkinson and her son? Absolutely awful.

GetOutOfMYGarden Wed 06-Dec-17 19:16:49

B. Shelter to help them get people off the streets, Mind to help stop people ending up on the streets (as many people have mental health or addiction issues preventing them from being able to go into a hostel), and your local soup kitchen/food bank/wherever gives them a good meal.

HermioneWeasley Wed 06-Dec-17 19:22:02

All ththe guidance from charities and support workers who understand the issues is not to give money to individuals, but donate to charities who can tackle the root causes.

Coastalcommand Wed 06-Dec-17 19:29:43

There's a big homeless charity in my nearest city. They also have the contract from the council to tackle homelessness. A quick look at their accounts shows that more than 80 percent of their funding goes on staff wages and pensions. The rest goes on hostels, many of which are crime hotspots and many homeless people are too scared to go to.
I give directly.

TheHungryDonkey Wed 06-Dec-17 19:39:01

Most people think they are helping homeless people when they’re not. I think some are a bit sick of having Greggs pasties thrust in their face without asking for one.

If not directly supporting a charity, I think it’s better to ask them directly what would help. The woman with a friend who came out and gave a homeless man loads of Greggs food this morning pissed him right off. He didn’t touch it. The gesture was done to make the people feel good about themselves which was obvious by the conversation they had walking away from him.

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