At the end of a day last week I passed a lady who was out begging. She was probably in her late 50′s or so, she told me she had been out for three weeks. I wondered if it may have been longer.
When I talked with her she pointed to a nearby bin cupboard where she slept each night. A cramped, rubbish-filled place with open grates for doors where the cold would come rushing through. She had been bitten by a rat a couple of nights ago and pulled up the bottom of her trouser leg to show me the red bite.
She started to get really emotional, and turned to me and said, “I’m freezing out here”.
I chatted to her about outreach teams, but she said she hadn’t seen anyone. She was immediately interested, but then told me she would be ok, she didn’t need to see anyone. As we talked more she explained she was afraid she may be taken away, to detox for example. I explained that they were there to help her, and that they could help her get off the streets and find accommodation. She remained unsure but started crying again and told me how cold she was. It definitely was freezing out and she was openly distressed. When I went home I made a referral so that the borough’s outreach teams could go along and try to help her.
If you have seen a rough sleeper out, you can get in touch to let outreach teams know about them and they will go out and follow up on your referral. You will need to provide as much detail as possible about the individual, including the place where they sleep so they can be located.
You can link to this form and St Mungo’s will pass on details to the relevant outreach team. Or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with any details of who and where someone is rough sleeping.
If the rough sleeper is in London, you can call the 0870 383 3333 number and you will get through to No Second Night Out hotline number.