Three in four Brits feel powerless to help homeless people

More than three-quarters (76%) of people in Britain feel powerless to help people experiencing homelessness, according to a new poll published today by Crisis. 

The YouGov poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 adults in Great Britain also reveals that half of people said they rarely or never try to do something to help when they see people experiencing street homelessness. When asked why they don’t always do something to help, the top three reasons were – they sometimes felt nervous to approach people (39%); they didn't always know what to do to help (36%); and they felt they couldn't make a difference (24%).

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “British people care about homelessness and they want to help but uncertainty and nervousness are stopping them. We all need the same basic things – shelter, food and being treated with dignity. Homelessness is incredibly isolating and lonely. Many people we work with tell us that not being acknowledged or treated as a fellow human being can be just as painful as the physical hardships. A friendly hello or quick chat is often as welcome as buying a hot drink or some food.” 

For people experiencing homelessness on the streets, Crisis says there are a variety of immediate ways to help:

  • Contact Streetlink (in England & Wales), or the local council in Scotland, to connect that person with the homelessness services in their area.
  • Call 999 if you have immediate concerns about their welfare
  • Ask if there is anything they need such as a hot drink or food, warm clothing and blankets.
  • Say hello or stop for a chat. 

Jon Sparkes, continued: “There are so many ways people can help whether it’s giving directly to someone experiencing homelessness or as we find ourselves in the run up to a General Election, raising the issue with your parliamentary candidates can make a difference. Everybody should have the stability of a safe home and however people choose to help, it’s all to give hope and ultimately end homelessness.”

Crisis is currently preparing to open its Christmas centres which are a lifeline for thousands of homeless people over the festive period. The centres offer immediate relief of warm food, shelter and many health and wellbeing services and also introduce guests to Crisis' year-round services so they can be supported to leave homelessness behind for good.

People can support by donating £28.87 so that one person experiencing homelessness can have a place at a Christmas centre and start their journey to leave homelessness for good. Visit www.crisis.org.uk/reserveaplace