A new helpline is being trialled to allow rough sleepers in London to self-refer as part of Sadiq Khan’s efforts to tackle rough sleeping in London. The free advice line, which is being backed by £200,000 of funding, is available for rough sleepers to speak to trained call handlers and connect them to outreach workers.
The phone number is available at day centres and medical centres, as well as being given to rough sleepers by outreach workers and Homeless Link.
Last year, more than 5,000 of the capital’s rough sleepers were helped as a result of alerts from the public, according to the mayor’s office. However, the number of people seen sleeping rough on London’s streets has more than doubled in the past decade to 8,855.
Petra Salva, director of rough sleepers, ex-offenders and migrant services from St Mungos – which runs outreach services in north London and the GLA funded Lewisham No Second Night Out (NSNO) shelter – said: “Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous, so it is vital that people get the help they need as quickly as possible and don’t spend second, third or more nights on the streets.
“This new pilot service will enable people who are sleeping rough or at risk to access the available support more quickly with the support of the London Advice Line team.
“Alongside referrals from concerned Londoners, this will help our and outreach teams and services be able to directly help more vulnerable people off the streets, out of danger into NSNO and other shelters, and on with their lives.”
The Mayor’s funding has also allowed StreetLink to develop a new StreetLink London homepage – giving Londoners the latest information about homeless outreach services in the capital and what they can do to help.
Funding for the new helpline and London homepage has come from the Greater London Authority and Bloomberg Associates, the philanthropic venture of New York’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
StreetLink is a website, mobile phone app and telephone service through which people can take positive action when they see someone sleeping rough by sending an alert that connects that person to local services for support.
Members of the public provides details about the rough sleeper’s location and general appearance to Streetlink, which are then sent to the correct, independent local homelessness outreach team, so they can locate the individual and connect them to support services. The person sending the alert initially receives details of the action the outreach team normally takes when they are told someone is sleeping rough, which will vary locally. StreetLink also finds out what has happened as a result of the alert within 14 days and, if requested, provides the member of the public with an update.
You can contact StreetLink via the website, mobile app and phone line and make an alert local authorities and street outreach services in England and Wales about people you have seen sleeping rough. In most of London, there is now a Rapid Response team in place to respond to alerts.
Rapid Response is a dedicated outreach team funded by the Mayor of London helping rough sleepers off the streets all year round.
Rapid Response is deployed in response to reports of someone sleeping rough made by Londoners using StreetLink, providing faster support to those on the street. By responding to new reports of rough sleepers, the Rapid Response team also provides the benefit of freeing up existing local outreach teams to focus on helping those who have been living on the streets for a long time and have additional support needs.
The team will operate in 24 London boroughs, with City Hall contributing additional funding to support local arrangements in the remaining boroughs, so that StreetLink alerts are responded to quickly and consistently in every area of London.
If you are concerned about an adult sleeping rough in London, please contact Streetlink. If you think the person you are concerned about is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999. The street outreach services that StreetLink connects people to are for adults only. If you believe that the person you are concerned about is under 18, please call 999.