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As storms Eunice and Dudley bring extreme weather across the country, Homeless Link is issuing a ‘Don’t Walk By’ plea to members of the public if they see someone sleeping rough. 

The Met Office has today issued a “danger to life” warning covering the whole of England for Friday 18 February, with Storm Eunice predicted to bring in winds reaching 100mph as well as the possibility of heavy snow and blizzards.  

These extreme conditions put people sleeping rough at great danger and can, in some cases, be fatal. Thirteen people died every week while experiencing homelessness in 2020, while the mean age at death for someone experiencing homelessness is 46 for men and 42 for women. 

It’s therefore vital anyone sleeping rough in these conditions is connected with local support services. Many local authorities have now activated their Severe Weather Emergency Provision protocols, meaning they are able to provide emergency accommodation to all who need it.  

Homeless Link’s ‘Don’t Walk By’ plea is calling on members of the public to take action if they see someone sleeping rough during the extreme weather, with a number of different ways people can offer support: 

Non-emergency situations

If the situation is not deemed an emergency people can:  

  • Smile, stop and say hello and ask how the person is doing. 
  • Send an alert via the StreetLink app and website, which passes the information on to the local homeless outreach service.  
  • Contact their local authority homelessness service directly.  

Emergency situations

  • In the case of an emergency or immediate risk people should contact 999.  

Please note, people should never put themselves at risk and intervene if they think it might put them in danger. 

Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, said:

“Please don’t just walk by. Unfortunately, many people are used to seeing people sleeping on the streets, meaning they often walk by without noticing. But extreme weather conditions like we are seeing at the moment can be really dangerous for people sleeping rough.  

“It’s hard for services to know the whereabouts of everyone sleeping on the streets so, in conditions like these, members of the public have a role to play in providing vital information, giving local authorities and homeless services the tools to find and accommodate people. A few minutes of your time could save someone’s life.  

“For situations that aren’t deemed an emergency, people can make an alert via StreetLink or contact their local authority directly. However, in the case of an emergency people should call 999. It’s also important to note that the plea only applies if people feel safe to approach someone, no one should put their own safety at risk.  

How to make an effective StreetLink alert

www.streetlink.org.uk  |  iTunes / Google Play ‘StreetLink’   

StreetLink is the app, website and phoneline which allows members of the public to send alerts about people sleeping rough. The service sends the alerts to the local outreach team in the area who use the information to go out and offer support to the person in question. 

If you see someone sleeping rough, you can make a referral via the StreetLink app, website or phoneline. Please note, StreetLink is not an emergency service. If you are concerned someone is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999.

When making a referral, it’s important you provide the following details: 

  • A specific location for the rough sleeping site. You can do this by using a map to pinpoint the exact location and then providing a written description of the location. 
  • Details of the time that the person sleeping rough was seen at the location. 
  • Any information about the person sleeping rough that will help identify them. Such as; gender, approximate age, what the person looks like and what they were wearing.