Here's how you can help homeless people in Doncaster this winter

With winter and Christmas drawing in, thoughts will be turning to how we can help those less fortunate than oursevles.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 8:50 am

And in Doncaster, many will be looking at how they can offer help to the town’s homeless community.

While there is generally enough shelter and beds available for all those genuinely homeless in Doncaster, many concerns have been raised abot the amount of people begging on the streets and rough sleeping.

So what can you do to help?

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Here's how you can help the homeless in Doncaster this winter.

Doncaster Council and many other agencies have plans in place – so here’s what you can do to offer your support.

A DMBC spokesman said: “Providing the right accommodation and support is vital in enabling vulnerable people to live independently in the community; ensuring they have choice and control of where and how they live.

“To do this successfully requires a partnership approach, which works in a joined up and strategic way to meet the accommodation needs of vulnerable people through a variety of mechanisms; such as supported housing, extra care, and general needs housing.

"Through a process of working closely with colleagues from Adult Social Care, the Doncaster Childrens Trust, St Leger Homes and Public Health, we will identify the particular housing requirements of individual groups and explore the development of a range of housing options that will a provide suitable choice of accommodation solutions for vulnerable people.

If you are homeless or think that you are going to become homeless you should contact Doncaster Council as soon as you can:

By Telephone: 01302 736000 Monday to Friday 08:30 - 17:00

If you do not have access to a phone or email please the One Stop Shop at The Civic Building in Doncaster during opening hours Monday - Friday between 8.30am - 5pm.

Emergencies: If you are homeless outside of these hours contact 01302 323444

If you know or see someone who is street homeless, contact Riverside and its rapid response team will assist you. Call 01302 558014 or email [email protected]

Homeless charity Crisis works to help rough sleepers over the Christmas period but stresses that help is needed all year around, while fellow charity Shelter estimates more than 250,000 people are homeless in England and in need of support.

Here are five practical ways you can make a difference.

1. Alert the professionals

Shoppers and commuters pass by homeless people day after day but many may feel they do not know how to help. One of the simplest ways is to tell a professional.

Street Link is a government-funded service which allows people to alert local authorities in England and Wales about rough sleepers in need of support in their area.

You can pick up the phone or use Street Link's website or app to enter details of the location, time and date you saw the person and any other information you have.

The service will contact professionals who will try to find them and help them access things like shelter and food.

2. Give time, not money

When someone on the street asks for money some give instinctively, while others struggle with what it might be spent on.

One previous rough sleeper has said money is not the answer.

"If they ask for money it's for one of two things - drugs or alcohol," he said. "Offer them food and if they don't take it they don't need it."

3. Give small things

Give a gift - a hat, gloves, or clean dry socks

If you choose not to give money to homeless people there are others things you can give to make a difference to their day.

Other gift ideas which could make a difference include hand warmers, gloves, hats and books.

4. Remember furry friends

You could drop by some dog food for homeless people with canine companions

A four-legged friend can be some rough sleepers' only companion - and both owner and pet may be grateful of a kind gesture.

"If people want to help [a homeless person] with a dog by buying them some dog food, then we're sure it would always be appreciated," says Clare Kivlehan, head of outreach projects at The Dog's Trust.

5. Remember the 'hidden homeless'

When rough sleepers line the streets, their plight is painfully visible. But homeless charity Shelter, says there are many, many more people whose struggles are hidden.

He says people could encourage those at risk of losing their homes to call their helpline, which is open 365 days a year for advice and support.

The government's Homelessness Reduction Bill places a duty on local authorities to help eligible people secure somewhere to live 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness.