People become homeless for lots of different reasons. At Maggs, we have experienced many examples of why people have reached this point. Some may be due to social causes such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment. But more reoccurring examples are that people have left prison with no address to go to, or left care or the army. Sadly, many women experiencing homelessness have escaped a violent or abusive relationship and are fleeing for safety.

Many people become homeless because they can no longer afford the rent, are in the midst of a relationship breaking down, lose their jobs, have mental or physical health problems, or have substance misuse.

However one of the more lesser known occurrences is people who are classed as ‘hidden homeless’.

The definition of hidden homelessness is where someone might have a roof over their head, but their accommodation is insecure or unstable. Some examples of this are someone living in a hostel, sofa surfing, sleeping in their car or staying in a hotel.

Hidden homelessness numbers are rising across not only Worcestershire but the UK as a whole. It’s hard to get a truly accurate measurement of people who are technically hidden homeless, as they still have some form of roof over their heads and are not visibly seen on the streets.

Unfortunately, in some cases, even if someone is leaving a situation where they are unsafe, the local authorities and housing can see you as ‘intentionally homeless’. This becomes tricky if you are looking to gain a property or access other services, and ultimately facing harsh realities of hidden homelessness or even sleeping rough.

How can you help?

  1. Report those in need to Streetlink

As an organisation, we never advise approaching anyone you think is sleeping rough or “presents” as homeless, as you don’t know what anyone’s circumstances are or their current mental state.

However, there is a fantastic app called Streetlink that allows us to be alerted to the exact location of someone who may be homeless, actioned by your location information.

StreetLink is a platform that connects people rough sleeping in England and Wales to support provided by local authorities and charities. This includes anyone who is sleeping outside, preparing to bed down, or sleeping somewhere not designed for habitation, such as a car. To make these connections, the platform relies on alerts submitted by members of the public and people sleeping rough.

Alerts are sent to our outreach teams, who go out at all hours of the day and night to connect people sleeping rough to local support services.

StreetLink complements existing outreach work by alerting teams to people they haven’t seen before. Plus, our Outreach workers have all been specifically trained in dealing with any circumstances that may arise, so our service users are in the best hands.

2. Donate

Like any charity, we can only survive with the support of our community. Whether this is monetary, gifts in kind, volunteering or people choosing to fundraise for us, we rely on the generosity of those to help us continue our services to support the homeless and vulnerable throughout the county.

There are many ways that you can support us, please visit our Ways to Help page for more details.

3. Be aware and be kind

It’s easy to judge if you haven’t experienced homelessness, and working in the industry we do, we’ve heard it all.

As an organisation, all we ask is that if you are approached by someone who appears to be sleeping rough, please be kind. We’re so lucky to have such compassionate people throughout the county who support our cause and show our service users so much empathy, but if you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to ask us.

For more information about our services, please get in touch at info@maggsdaycentre.co.uk.