Rough sleepers are a common sight, particularly in London; yet, too often, people pretend not see them.
At Four Walls, we make it our mission to get to know the people we help. We talk to those we meet in order to better understand what they need from us in order to make their situation better. It's time to check ourselves when we make assumptions about rough sleepers - here are a few simple ways we can help those sleeping rough:
Talking to those whom are on the street is perhaps one of the most important and meaningful things you can do for someone sleeping rough.
At Four Walls, we often find that when we carry out our outreach service and talk to those we meet, it is often the first conversation they've had all day. No one likes to be ignored, yet often people are scoffed at and are looked at rather than having their existence acknowledge.
By talking to people, important stigmas and stereotypes are also broken down. This is important for a wider shift in attitudes surrounding rough sleeping which at present negatively affects efforts to help solve the problem of rough sleeping.
DON'T GIVE SCRAPS:
While we understand that good intentions are often behind these instances, we would like to remind people that whilst your offer is appreciated, it is often best to ask rough sleepers what they need.
Not only does this open the way to make conversation with someone, but it also means that you are helping someone in a more effective way. A lot of people we meet talk about how they are always in need of more warm socks, gloves and hats for example.
Worryingly, the act of begging has been actively criminalised in the last year with announcements being made on the tube not to encourage this behaviour for example.
Four Walls understands the anxiety that any money given may be spent on drugs or alcohol. However, with most of London's hostels and shelters charging money to have people sleep there (often costing between £10-20 a night), the majority, if not all rough sleepers ask for money in the hope that they'll have somewhere warm and safe for the night.