There are many ways to help the homeless, beyond just throwing money at big charities. They do great work, but other ideas are needed to, that think out of the box. Most homeless people do not choose to live this way. Often it’s caused by being widowed, divorced, ill or escaping abuse. It’s cold, dangerous, boring and most homeless people die at age just 47 (men) and 43 (women). Streetlink lets you contact local authorities or hostels, if you are concerned for the wellbeing of a homeless person. Also see how to help dogs of homeless people.
- Homes for the Homeless were created by architect James Furzer, who was appalled to learn that some councils use ‘spikes’ to stop homeless people sleeping on park benches. These pods attach to sides of buildings, warmed by air vents.
- Amazing Grace Spaces include a bed, toilet, phone charger and unique secure keycode. Made from a shipping container.
- Ulm Nest are being piloted in a city in Germany. These are futuristic pods that can fit 2 people and can be locked, and are ideal for temporary accommodation and are also being used for those with pets, as the perfect alternative if there are no dog-friendly hostels. Ideal to prevent frostbite.
- Goldsmith Street (Norwich) is a social housing project, heating bills are £150 a year. An alternative to cold, damp and dilapidated housing for people on low incomes.
- Housing Reclaimed is a book about US communities who create beautiful homes, by doing up homes slated for demolition.
- Green Pastures is a wonderful organisation that asks churches to invest their money in them instead of with the bank (a better investment). They then use the money to buy properties to give stable homes to homeless people. Some of those in their care have got off drink and drunks, found work and left abusive relationships, to live safely with their children.
- Greater Change (Oxford) receives notification of local homeless people. Then it pools donations.
- Camden Routes (London) and Safer Off The Streets (Peterborough) are run by networks of local volunteers and churches. You donate to them, and they find rough sleepers reported to councils, and get them into hostels (with dogs, if relevant), get them medical care and addiction treatment, and help sort out their benefits etc.
- Start a Food Not Bombs chapter (using leftover food to feed people for free in public spaces).
Buses 4 Homeless is a London charity that takes used London buses and turns them into homes for people (rather than adding spikes to stop people sleeping in bus shelters). There are buses with sleep pods, kitchen/dining rooms, learning spaces and a wellness centre.
London social enterprise Change Please (that employs homeless people as baristas for mobile coffee carts) has recently unveiled 2 refurbished buses that tour the city, offering support to rough sleepers via free GP consults, haircuts, dental care, support opening a bank account, showers, therapy and employment help.
In Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire), the old bus station is being revamped to become an overnight hostel for rough sleepers. It will provide beds for up to 18 people along with showers and access to a large kitchen and support workers. The ground floor will continue to support homeless people, during daytime.