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How to talk about homelessness

Homelessness is a problem that affects all of us in society – and we can all be part of the solution. An important first step is to have a conversation. To talk to the people in our lives and in our communities about homelessness.  
We’ve put together some simple tips to help everyone get started.   
Together we can make homelessness impossible to ignore.   

1. Change how we talk about homelessness

When we talk about homelessness we can help people to understand: 
- It is more than rough sleeping.

- Constant pressure from poverty and other factors pushes people into homelessness.

- Homelessness can be ended. But it’s about fixing policies and systems – not fixing people. 

2. Use language that puts people first

Sometimes the language we use can make it seem like people experiencing homelessness are somehow different and only defined by the experience of homelessness.  
We are all defined by many things. We are friends, siblings, parents, neighbours, athletes, artists, avid readers…  
Instead of using phrases like ‘the homeless’ or ‘rough sleepers’, try firstly describing the person e.g. ‘people experiencing homelessness.’ 

3. Talk to the people around you

Homelessness can be overwhelming and feel uncomfortable to confront. But as simple as this might sound, talking is an important step in make homelessness impossible to ignore. You could:  

Have conversations with your friends and family


 Arrange discussions or talks at work, college or school  


 Find ways to talk about homelessness with your community groups 


Conversation starters

It can feel difficult to start a conversation around homelessness, you could try some of these simple openers:


"I learnt something interesting about homelessness today..."


"We all need a safe home - that's why I'm supporting Crisis's #CantBeIgnored campaign..."


"I'd like to arrange a lunch and learn session for our team about homelessness..."


Perhaps most importantly you could write to your MP or contact other local decision makers.

4. Chat to people who are rough sleeping

Rough sleeping is the most visible and devastating form of homelessness – and we know that people feel a lot of uncertainty about how they can – or should – support someone who is rough sleeping.  
Whether we choose to give money or any other items, one of the most important things we can do is offer connection and conversation.  
Whatever you do, remember that each person is different and will have different needs. So, ask them what they would find most helpful. None of us are always in the mood for a chat – and that’s ok!  
Treating each other with dignity is something that we value as a society – and it’s something we all have the power to do.