Teaching and Learning

Other Emergency Options

You can find information on other emergency options below. Sleeping rough can be dangerous and should be avoided if at all possible. Here is some practical advice if you do find yourself sleeping on the street:

Keeping warm
Try to find somewhere sheltered. Protect yourself against the cold by having a sleeping bag and/or blankets. Avoid sleeping directly on the ground, for example, by putting cardboard or blankets down first.

Safety
It is better to stay where other people are sleeping. However sleeping in a visible place may put you at risk from the general public. Young women may be more at risk if they are in an area where there are people they don’t know. There are outreach teams in some, but not all, areas. They visit the places where they know people are sleeping. The outreach teams may be able to get you into a hostel or night shelter. They can also give information about day centres available.

Health
Although people sleeping on the streets have a right to register with a doctor, it can be difficult to get medical treatment. You may be offered temporary registration for three months. This will not however enable you to get a medical card. You can only get this if a doctor accepts you as a permanent patient. You don’t need an address to register; you can use a ‘care of’ address, such as a friend or day centre. In cities and large towns, there may be drop in surgeries for people sleeping on the streets. Health service staff also visit day centres and offer check ups and treatment. Some day centres employ staff to help people with mental health problems or drink and drug problems. Many day centres do not allow drink or drugs on the premises.

Staying in touch
You may lose touch with friends and family if you are sleeping rough and moving from place to place. At the same time, friends and family may need to get in contact. Listed below are some ways of keeping in touch:

  • Some day centres will accept mail on behalf of young people sleeping on the streets who use the day centre on a regular basis
  • Through out reach teams
  • The national missing persons help-line
  • There are internet sites set up by homeless people for homeless people
  • Cheap internet access is offered by some public libraries and internet cafes if you want to send and receive emails
  • Through The Big Issue

Meals
Soup runs visit the places where they know people sleep. They distribute free food and hot drinks, usually on a daily basis. Day centres may provide free or cheap meals to street homeless people.

Belongings
If you are concerned about your belongings, some day care centres can store them.

Pets
If you have a pet, they can get free or cheap treatment through an animal charity. You may have to provide proof that you are claiming benefits and that you have nowhere permanent to live. Most hostels will not accept pets. It is always best to check in advance.