StreetLink: everything you need to know

    As one of the largest providers of outreach services in England, we go out morning, noon and night to meet people who are sleeping rough. We work with our clients to gain their trust and offer them routes out of homelessness.

    For many, meeting a member of our outreach team is the first step on their journey to recovery. Often, it is members of the public like you who make these meetings possible.

    What is StreetLink and how does it work?

    “StreetLink will process your alert and pass it on to the local outreach team, so they can go out and look for the person.

    StreetLink is a referral service that can be used by anyone who wants to help someone sleeping rough. Ellie is a volunteer shift leader, and tells us more about it.

    If you want to help someone you’ve seen sleeping rough, but don’t know what to do, StreetLink is a simple way to take action. Send an alert on our website, app or telephone line, providing the exact location of where you have seen someone sleeping.

    “If the outreach team is able to find someone, they’ll do an assessment to see what their situation is, connect them with local services, and work to help them move off the streets for good.

    “At StreetLink’s telephone line, we take calls from both members of the public who have seen someone rough sleeping and people who are rough sleeping themselves. We can signpost them to local organisations, such as their local housing options, where they can make a homeless application.

    “We might also direct them to day centres, where they can get food, showers and advice during the day time.

    “There have been a few times when someone has called to make an alert after going through the StreetLink process themselves. They’ve been helped by someone making a StreetLink alert for them, and want to do the same for someone else. So it’s great to see that it works!”

    What makes a good StreetLink alert?

    “When making an alert, we need a really clear location. You might identify a nearby building or street. Some people use what3words, which breaks an area down into 3×3 meter squares, which is especially useful if someone’s rough sleeping in a forest or woodland area.

    “The outreach teams who respond to our alerts get lots of referrals to attend, so it makes it easier for them to reach as many people as possible.

    “Describing what the person is wearing and any standout characteristics is helpful too.”

    You can make a StreetLink alert by downloading the app, or visiting their website

    Please remember that StreetLink is not an emergency response service. If someone requires urgent medical attention, call 999.

    How can I get involved?

    “We’re always on the lookout for volunteers on the telephone line. Especially as we head towards winter time, when we tend to get very busy. We have about 40 volunteers at the moment, but we want to get back to where we were pre-pandemic, when we had around 80. It would help us to reach so many more people.

    “Most of our work is volunteer led, and we’re so proud of the work they do. When people first come in, they might be a bit nervous about having to get on the phone. But we provide lots of training and listen in to their first calls, so that if there’s any difficult situations, they know what to do.  It’s great to see our volunteers grow more confident and feel that they’re making a difference.

    “Last year, we nominated five volunteers for The Marsh Awards, which celebrates the achievements of volunteers across the UK, and all five won! It was a really rewarding moment for the whole team.”

    If you’re interested in volunteering with our London-based StreetLink team, and would like more information, click here.

    Homelessness and men’s mental health

    Homelessness and mental health are issues that intersect. Last year, 69% of clients who were assessed needed support for their mental health.

    Having a friend or family member to speak to helps, but for men, stigmas around mental health can make it more challenging to open up.

    That’s why our Bristol Floating Mental Health Support team have set up Men’s Group – an informal, weekly group where men can sit, chat and make friends.

    Jamie, James and Simon share what the group’s been up to, and how we tackling the issue of homelessness and mental health.

    Supporting men's mental health

    Jamie: Mental Health Floating Support Worker

    “As a Mental Health Floating Support Worker, I support around 17 clients across Bristol.”

    “Lots of the people I work with have lived lonely lives. Whilst there are women’s groups for clients who want to chat and share experiences, I couldn’t find anything similar for men.

    “That’s why I decided to start a Men’s Group. I wanted to create an informal space where men could come and meet new people, chat, play games and listen to music – an escape from their daily stresses.

    “At the time we were still in the middle of the pandemic, and couldn’t host groups inside. But it was summer, so we decided to go to the park, meet at the bandstand, and have a BBQ. And that’s where it all began!

    “Our clients really enjoyed coming every week, and with summer coming to an end, we needed a sheltered space to meet. We didn’t have a big budget to work with, so the Putting Down Roots team offered to share their wonderful garden enclosure with us, and we’ve been meeting here ever since.

    “I think the group’s been successful because we’re quite small, which makes it less intimidating, and easier for people to get to know each other. There’s no set format or pressure for people to talk about anything – they can just sit here and chill.”

    “Because a lot of the men who come to the group have shared similar experiences, they’ve actually become really supportive of each other, which is amazing. Someone might be going through a rough patch, and if someone else has had a similar experience in the past, then they can empathise. It’s a very non-judgmental group – we’re all here for each other.

    “Last year, we’d planned to host a Christmas party inside, with a pool tournament and food, but unfortunately we had to cancel due to Covid. I’m hoping we can put on something similar this year.”

    “I have something to look forward to”

    Simon, St Mungo's client

    “I really needed something like this, you know, coming out of the pandemic. My mental health suffered, like loads of others. I live in a flat by myself and it was very isolating and lonely.

    “I heard about the group through a member of Jamie’s team, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve been coming for over a month now and it’s been really good. I struggle with fatigue, so I’m proud that I’ve managed to keep coming.

    “It’s the only thing I’ll leave my local area for, but it’s nice to get a change of scene and have something to look forward to.”

    “As we get to know and trust each other, the conversation takes on a life of itself. It goes a bit deeper sometimes, but often it’s just light hearted.”

    “It takes your mind off things”

    James, St Mungo's client

    “After my brother died, I had a really tough year.

    “St Mungo’s have helped me keep going with weekly bereavement counselling, and activities like the men’s group. I’m also taking part in English and Maths classes at their Recovery College.

    “I love meeting new people – and everyone here is really friendly. Having your own space to chat, have a laugh and play games takes your mind off things. I’m always recommending the group to others.”

    “In the past, I used drink and drugs, but St Mungo’s have helped me to gain a new outlook on life. To tell the truth, I don’t think I’d be here without them.”

    What do our clients think of us?

    Our recent Client Feedback Survey shows that 93% of people we work with are satisfied with the support they receive.

    Providing clients with regular opportunities to feedback is key to developing efficient and effective services that meet their needs. The 592 responses we received will help us to form a clearer picture of what we are doing well as an organisation, and identify key areas where we can improve.

    What our clients say

    “Since I got here, my health has got much better. I feel very happy, and there is always food to eat when I need it.”

    “Intensive support when needed was great, and they went above and beyond what any other service would do.”

    “The biggest credit to the service is the wonderful, kind and helpful staff I interact with daily. I have never met an unkind staff member.”

    “You’ve made me feel cared for, and given me a great opportunity to get back on my feet. Thank you so much.”

    Client feedback in numbers

    0 %
    would describe staff as “caring, supportive and respectful”
    0 %
    agree we help them to make positive changes in their life
    0 %
    are satisfied that their needs are understood

    Introducing our winter appeal

    Sleeping rough in winter can kill. But one night of safety can change someone’s life and take them off the streets for good.

    That’s why we’ve launched our new campaign, Last Night on the Streets. It aims to highlight the dangers of rough sleeping, and the hard work that our outreach teams do to get people off the streets and into safety.

    Crucially, it will help us to raise the vital funds we need to meet growing demands for support – with the need for our help expected to rise as the cost of living crisis deepens.

    We want our campaign to reach as many people as possible, so that we can gain more wonderful supporters like you, who can help us through this busy time, and bring us closer to our goal of ending homelessness in England for good.

    A glimpse of life on the streets

    As part of the winter appeal, we’ve created a TV advert that provides a glimpse into a person’s journey from the streets and into accommodation, showing you the harsh elements they endure night after night, and the hope that meeting our outreach team can give.

    The life expectancy of someone sleeping rough is just 45 for men, and 41 for women. Last year, our outreach teams supported over 5,000 people. In order to help as many people as possible, we need more supporters like you, who can make tonight someone’s last night on the streets.

    Learn more




    The cost of living crisis: our clients’ views

    Our work doesn’t stop at helping people into homes – we keep in touch and offer floating support to make sure that clients like Tracy and Dylan* have everything they need to manage independent or semi-independent living. But the cost of living crisis means that money’s tight. They share their views on how it’s affected them so far.

    “I’ve had to cut back on shopping to top up my electric”

    With support from St Mungo’s, former client Tracy has lived in her own flat for nearly a decade. She explains why the cost of living crisis is worrying her, and how being a member of Outside In, our client involvement group, helps her stay positive.

    “The cost of living is too expensive and I’m really struggling at the moment. I was diagnosed with throat cancer last year and had to have my voice box removed. I use an electric fan daily to help me breathe, and a nebulizer to take medicine. I also need to keep my medicine stored in the fridge – so it’s not easy for me to reduce my electric use.

    "I’ve had to cut back on shopping to make sure I have enough to top up my electric, and a few times I’ve had to ask utilities to help me out and then pay interest back. The cost of living payment from the government just isn’t enough."

    “We need more awareness over who needs help. Right now, there is a lot of stigma over people needing grants or things like that. People think that others are lazy or don’t want to work, but this is far from the truth. Some people have poor health, and those who can work often do.

    “One positive that’s come out of this year is being a member of Outside In, St Mungo’s client representative group. I’ve made some amazing friends who I meet up with regularly. It’s been my lifeline throughout my cancer journey. I don’t know what I would have done without them – they’re like my family. I’d like to say a big thank you to St Mungo’s for being there.”

    “I’m happy to have my own place, but I’m feeling the squeeze”

    After spending some time in hospital, Dylan needed a stable place to recover his mental health. He stayed in one of our specialist services for three years, and now lives in his own flat. He shares how he manages on a small budget.

    “I’m happy to have my own place, but I’m feeling the squeeze. When you start living by yourself, there are a lot more expenses. St Mungo’s helped me set up my housing benefit claim and get a job with the council, but even with both, money is tight.

    “One of my biggest expenses is utilities – it adds up to over £200 a month, for a one bedroom flat.

    “Because I’m in recovery from a mental health intervention, it’s really important that I can have some normality in my life. Things like seeing friends, going to the gym or doing sports can make all the difference, but that’s not cheap either."

    “Food is going up all the time too – the prices change every week. So I try to only buy things from the reduced section. I’m having to delay decorating my flat too – I’m getting things bit by bit. One of the staff from the service helped me to install some curtains recently, which was really helpful.

    “In order to do that regularly and have the life I want, I need a lot more income. But I really appreciate all the help and support I’ve had from St Mungo’s.”

    *Name changed at client’s request.

    How we work with clients struggling with the cost of living

    We’re doing all we can to support clients who are struggling with the cost of living, including:

    Read more about what we do here.

    How we advocate for our clients

    Another way that we are supporting our clients is by making sure their voices and needs are heard by those in power.

    Since 2021, we have been a key member of the Kerslake Commission, an independent commission chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service.

    The Commission aims to understand what we have learnt from the emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic, and make recommendations on how we can take those learnings forward to end rough sleeping for good.

    A new progress report published by the Commission in September shows that more than 25% of recommendations have been enacted by stakeholders including national and local government so far.

    Actions include a three year funding commitment for the homeless sector, as well as:

    • The creation of the 2022 Health and Care Act, which will make it easier for organisations to deliver joined-up care to patients experiencing homelessness. When clients with mental and physical health needs get the right support, it makes it much easier for them to support themselves.
    • Plans for a Renters Reform Bill, which tackles the injustice of unfit homes and gives renters more protection. This includes the scrapping of Section 21 or “no fault” evictions, which enable landlords to evict tenants with two months notice, without reason.

    Of course, as the cost of living crisis deepens, more reforms are needed if we are to continue meaningful progress on ending rough sleeping.

    We will continue our work with the Kerslake Commission and key policy makers to promote the best outcomes for our clients.

    To find out more about the Kerslake Commission, and read their latest update, visit the Commission on Rough Sleeping.

    A day in the life of a St Mungo’s outreach worker

    James is a St Mungo’s outreach worker in our Bristol team. He’s out morning, day and night to find people sleeping rough and connect them with the services they need.

    “It’s hard to describe a typical outreach shift – every day is different! At the beginning, I come into work and plan my time, deciding where I’m going to go and which clients I need to see. I’ll also check for referrals from StreetLink, which are really useful when it comes to finding new people. Then I head out into Bristol – usually on foot.

    “When I meet someone new, the number one thing is to try and have a chat and build a rapport with them. You can’t dive in and do an assessment if they don’t feel comfortable, because they’re not going to want to share stuff with you.

    “Once I’ve introduced myself, I’ll try and get as much information as I can about their situation. Sometimes I do the assessment on the street, or I’ll invite them to a café or somewhere more private.

    "But it’s not just about getting people into accommodation. A lot of what we do is planting the seeds – encouraging people to start thinking about ways forward."

    “In many cases, the information I get can be used to make a referral to the Homeless Prevention Team at the council. I can also add them to the Housing Register so that Housing Advisors have the information they need to contact and support them.

    “Whilst all this is going on, there’s lots of other ways that I might be able to help a client. I can give them a mobile phone so that they can be easily contacted, or signpost them to places to get food, drink and a wash. I might help them to make a benefit claim, or walk them to the homeless health clinic. Sometimes, we even have doctors and nurses joining us on shift to offer treatment and advice.

    “If all goes to plan, they’ll get an offer of accommodation, and I’ll help them to get there and move in. I can also refer them to any other services and support they might need.

    “There are a lot of barriers that stop people from accepting our help – such as poor mental health, or addiction. For instance, I recently worked with Alex*, a young man in his twenties, who was experiencing paranoia and thought he was being stalked.

    “When I first met him and offered help, he said he was fine. But over the course of a year, I managed to build a relationship with him, and gain his trust.

    “Eventually, he agreed to let me drive him home. What started with a “Hello, I don’t want any help”, turned into us sitting round the table with his family, having a cup of tea, and giving them all a hug. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and a huge relief for them.

    “I love my job – it’s a real privilege. Everyone is so driven, knowledgeable and supportive, and we have a wealth of experience to draw on within our team. Together, I feel like there’s no situation we couldn’t handle.”

    *This name has been changed to protect the client’s privacy

    Outreach at Christmas

    “Christmas is a very, very lonely time if you are living on the street. You’re sitting there with all of your memories of Christmas’ past, and you are totally on your own.

    “We try to be there for people, and make them feel included. We might help people to get bus or train tickets, so that they can reconnect with family, or hand out gifts that have been donated. Some of us head over to The Trinity Centre, where some clients spend Christmas, and say hello.”

    "It's that human thing of being there for someone."

    Outreach at Christmas

    We often have opportunities for people to volunteer with our outreach team. You can support us either as a:

    • First Response volunteer, helping busy outreach teams to locate people quickly, so that they have a more productive shift
    • Outreach volunteer, working with experienced outreach staff to locate and speak to people sleeping rough, and help them access the services they need

    For more information and to view our latest roles, click here.

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