We may be moving away from Winter and towards Spring, but the weather seems to have missed the message about the change of season. Snow in March is exciting for some, and annoying for others, but for those who have to front out the cold and sleep rough, the snowy weather can be downright dangerous.
If you want to do your bit to help those who have no choice but to sleep rough in the snow, here are some ways to help them stay safe and warm.
Report rough sleepers to Streetlink
This is one of the best ways that you can help a rough sleeper in these awful weather conditions. Streetlink have a website, an app and a 24-hour phone line that you can call when you see someone sleeping rough. They connect homeless people to the support that’s available, and gives the public the opportunity to help. So if you’re not sure how to help, this is a great way to go.
If you report a rough sleeper to Streetlink, make sure you include their location, as this is how they’ll be able to find and help the person in question. They’ll send a trained team out to look for them, so that they can offer them the help they need.
Talk to them
This might not sound like it’s going to have much impact, but you’d be surprised. Stopping for a chat can really cheer someone up, and boost their spirits when they may be at their lowest.
By talking to them, you may also be able to work out if there are any other ways you can help them.
Bring them some hot food or drink
Some hot food or drink can not only warm someone up from the inside, but it’s also a great way to show you care. A warm coffee or a toasted sandwich can help rough sleepers keep their strength up and spirits high.
If you can bring them something warm that’s also nutritious, this is even better. Rough sleepers struggle to get the nutrients they need, and so they struggle to fight off the cold effectively. A nutritious meal can be just what they need to keep their bodies strong and resilient to the cold weather.
By offering food rather than money you’ll also make sure the money goes towards something that will help them see the night through.
Bring them some extra blankets
What rough sleepers really need when the temperatures plummet is shelter. The only trouble is, it’s not always possible to offer them accommodation. So the next best thing is warmth.
Extra blankets can make a harsh night on the streets slightly more bearable. They can be used to shelter under, for extra warmth, or as padding to keep them off the ice cold floor. The more layers rough sleepers have, the less they’ll feel the cold.
Plus, this is a great way to help if you already have old blankets laying around the house. So many of us have more blankets and throws than we actually need, so it makes sense to donate them to those who need them not just for comfort, but in order to see the harsh wintery nights through.
Take some books to the homeless
Most of us can’t go a few hours without turning on the TV or looking for some sort of entertainment. But those without a home have to front out the days and the nights with not that much to do.
What has this got to do with helping rough sleepers get through cold nights? Having something else to think about and focus on can distract them from the bite of the cold, and help time pass a little quicker.
So if you have any books that you’re not going to read again cluttering up your book shelf, why not take them out and donate them to rough sleepers in your area? Books can be the perfect way to escape, and can make a rough sleeper’s night more bearable and more interesting.
A pair of warm socks is always welcome
Sometimes there’s nothing worse than having cold feet, so a pair of clean and warm socks might seem like an odd thing to give a rough sleeper, but they can make all the difference. This is a great way to help if you don’t have money to spare, but want to do your bit.
They don’t even have to be new socks, just if you have any clean socks then you could consider giving them out to the homeless. Warm winter socks especially will be welcomed and greatly appreciated.
If they have a furry friend, bring them something too
Sleeping rough can be incredibly lonely, which is why you’ll often see rough sleepers with a furry friend by their side. If you decide to help a rough sleeper, don’t forget to offer some help to their companion. You’ll be helping keep the animal healthy, whilst also boosting the rough sleeper’s spirits.