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Nightshelter in the snow

24 January 2019

How to help the homeless during freezing weather

As the weather gets colder, we often get asked how best to help those experiencing homelessness during the winter months.

There are lots of ways that you can help:

Report a rough sleeper to Streetlink 

Streetlink is the national charity that connects rough sleepers to local services, so if you are concerned that someone is sleeping rough and want to make sure they receive the right help, you can report a rough sleeper via Streetlink's website or use their app. 

Spread the word about local services 

The Nightshelter works in partnership with the local council and other local homelessness charities on outreach, which runs in Winchester four times a week, and aims to identify any rough sleepers, give them information about what services are available to them, as well as provide hot drinks.

If you see a rough sleeper however, it's still worth letting them know about local homelessness services - Trinity Winchester is the day centre for those experiencing homelessness, and can be accessed during most weekday daytime hours, as well as for emergency overnight accommodation during freezing temperatures (known as Severe Weather Emergency Protocol). Hot food, showers and clothes are all available.

The homelessness team at Winchester City Council on Colebrook Street can advise them on their housing options, including referrals into the Nightshelter. 

Nightshelter residents are currently permitted to stay in during weekday mornings until 1pm during freezing weather conditions. 

Give something useful

Blankets and sleeping bags, hats and gloves, are of course much needed by homelessness charities in the winter months. Donating these items can be a really useful way to help, however check with the charity first, just in case they have reached "peak donation"! 

Sponsor a bed

It costs just £2 to sponsor a bed at the Nightshelter - and it only takes a minute! You can text WCNS19 £2 to 70070. Your donation will help provide not only a bed, but vital services to someone experiencing homelessness. 

Spare Change for Real Change

Spare Change for Real Change is a Winchester-based diverted giving scheme that aims to encourage the public to donate their spare change to local charities, rather than directly to street beggars. So if you're unsure whether to give money directly to street beggars, this is a great alternative - all the money generated gets divided between the Nightshelter and Trinity Winchester, and helps both charities work with the homeless to achieve meaningful, long-term change. The money is collected via collection boxes located around the city centre. 

Contact your local homelessness charities for other ways to help

There are so many ways that you can support the work of local homelessness charities - not just during the winter, but all year round. Donating food, clothes and bedding is always helpful, just check first with the charities as to what they most need. Even if you aren't able to support a charity financially, there are lots of other ways that you can help. 

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