Outreach and emergency services for homeless people

Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness. It is harmful, dangerous and ruins lives. It is so damaging for people’s health that the average of death for a man who dies whilst homeless is 47. For a woman, it is just 43*.

We believe that no one should sleep rough.

As the largest provider of outreach services for people who are rough sleeping in England, we go out each night to meet people sleeping rough and help them to move away from the streets.

StreetLink

StreetLink, the national referral line managed by St Mungo's in partnership with Homeless Link, is the main service the public can use to let us know about someone they are concerned about who is sleeping rough. The information is used to help outreach teams locate them and support them off the streets.

You can find out more about this service on our StreetLink page.

Our outreach approach

Our outreach teams go out at night and in the early mornings, looking for people sleeping rough. Our first priority is to get people off the streets and into accommodation.

We gradually build up trusting relationships, working with people to offer them routes out of homelessness and towards recovery. We work in partnership with other organisations to help people access accommodation as well as support services such as physical and mental health services, drug and alcohol services, and legal services as needed. Where appropriate, we assist people with reconnection - helping them to return to their home towns in the UK and abroad.

In London, our outreach teams work in Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark, the City of London, Tower Hamlets and Westminster.

We also run outreach services in Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Poole, Reading and Sussex.

For a full picture, see where we work.

Outreach – tailoring our services to local needs

While the ethos underpinning our outreach work is consistent across all the areas we work, the actual services we run are tailored to meet local needs.

An example of how we work differently is in Westminster. Our 'hotspot teams' tackle one of the most difficult areas of rough sleeping in the country where there are encampments and large numbers of people who have slept rough for a long time. Here, we work with other homelessness charities in the area and staff who speak different languages to really get to know the people there and find the best way to support them away from the streets.

No Second Night Out

Launched in 2011, in conjunction with the London Mayor’s Task Force, No Second Night Out provides a rapid response for people sleeping rough for the first time. Our outreach teams refer people sleeping rough to one of three ‘hubs’, open 24 hours a day - a safe environment where professionals can carry out a comprehensive assessment and talk people through the options available to them to end their rough sleeping.

Cold weather

Extreme weather like storms, snow or sub-zero temperatures bring additional challenges for people sleeping rough and can make an already dangerous situation lethal. During periods of extreme cold weather, we ask you to help by:

  • Being extra vigilant for people sleeping rough, and to use StreetLink’s app, phone line or website to help us find people we don't already know about
  • Considering volunteering at our “Severe Weather Emergency Provision” (SWEP) shelters. Our teams may need additional volunteers to operate these emergency shelters
  • If you see someone who’s in immediate danger or a medical emergency, call 999.

Hostels

Our top priority with anyone sleeping rough is to get a roof over their head and a safe place to begin their recovery. While this isn’t enough to end their homelessness, it’s a vital first step in making sure their situation stops deteriorating. We have more information on our page hostels and accommodation.

Policy and influencing work – learning from what we see

We are on the frontline of services for people sleeping rough. Our nightly experiences offer a wealth of information on how best to help these people, how effective local services are and how we can prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.

We believe that political leadership is needed to end rough sleeping for good. We are campaigning for national government action on rough sleeping, including investment in prevention, outreach work, emergency accommodation, supported housing and specialist mental health services.

*St Mungo's (2014) A Future. Now. Homeless Health Matters: the case for change