Sovereign Health Care is proud to support Centrepoint through its Community Programme – over the last 10 years, Sovereign has donated £5.8m to health and wellbeing good causes. Centrepoint’s goal is to help young people leave homelessness behind for good and it runs hostels in Bradford as well as London and the North East. From getting young people off the street to giving them employment and training opportunities, it gives homeless young people in Bradford a future.

With the weather turning colder and winter fast-approaching, our thoughts are turning to the festive season. Christmas parties, delicious food, drinks and cosy nights on the sofa are just around the corner.  

Whilst there’s no denying that the festive season is an exciting time, sadly not everyone will be filled with Christmas cheer this year. The UK’s leading charity for homeless people, Centrepoint, estimates that over 18,000 young people in the UK will be homeless or at risk of homelessness.1

With temperatures set to drop, the situation for homeless people is will only get worse. To find out what we can do to help the homeless over Christmas and during the winter months, Centrepoint has given us some practical tips.

Refer those at risk to a helpline

Whether a person is homeless or at risk of being homeless, a good starting point is to make them aware of organisations or helpline that can provide them with information about how and where they can get help.

If you think a young person might be at risk, you can call the Centrepoint Helpline yourself for free on 0808 800 0661, or you can pass the number on to the individual to call for themselves. The Centrepoint Helpline is available to any young person aged between 16 and 25 and is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

For those over the age of 25, there are other helplines available that can provide useful advice, such as Shelter on 0808 800 4444. The helpline is open 365 days a year – 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on weekends.

Inform the local authority

Another way to help is to refer them to your local authority. This will allow the council to investigate further and, hopefully, provide shelter or relevant resources.

An easy way to do this is via the StreetLink app. Downloadable from Apple or Google Stores, StreetLink can also be contacted via a 24-hour helpline on 0300 500 0914. Remember to be as detailed as possible when describing the individual’s appearance and location so the team has the best chance of finding them.

If it’s safe, ask them if they need anything

Whether you give money, clothing or food to a homeless person is a personal decision. Recent research showed that 93% of young people who slept rough felt that nobody cared about them2, so a small act of kindness, such as a warm drink or meal, can make a real difference.

Even if you don’t have anything to give, a friendly face and acknowledgement will always be welcome. However, if you feel that someone’s health is at immediate risk, call the emergency services.

Provide long-term support

Homelessness is a huge, ongoing issue in the UK. Living on the streets is difficult, but during winter it could be life threatening. One way we can work towards eradicating this problem is through making regular donations to charitable causes who support the homeless.

Centrepoint is urging people to donate this winter and just £18 could give a young homeless person a warm, safe room, a hot meal and support in rebuilding their life. For more information about how you can help Centrepoint support the homeless this Christmas, visit centrepoint.org.uk/safechristmas.

To find out more about Sovereign Health Care and its Community Programme, please visit sovereignhealthcare.co.uk/about/community-programme.

1 Research by Centrepoint, Sept 2018
2 (Official Government stats) Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (2018) Rough sleeping in England: Autumn 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rough-sleeping-in-england-autumn-2017

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