Seen someone experiencing homelessness lately, wanted to help someone rough sleeping, but not known what to do? StreetLink is a website, app and phone service enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with local homelessness services that can support them – and this Winter marks its 10th anniversary.
How does StreetLink work?
The details you provide are sent to local homelessness support services ie. the Local Authority or outreach service for the area in which you have seen the person. StreetLink does not alert or involve the police.
In Gateshead and South Tyneside, StreetLink alerts come to us – and the Local Authority housing team – and we’re usually out looking for the person you’ve told us about within a matter of hours.
Why use StreetLink?
Sally, who leads our Basis crisis services across Gateshead, explains: “There are a number of times we’ve found people sleeping rough, in need of help, but only thanks to a StreetLink alert that’s let us know someone’s last location.
“With temperatures still in single figures, please log onto StreetLink as soon as you see someone; don’t leave it too long.
“If we arrive and only find bedding or a shelter, we always leave a postcard saying ‘Sorry we missed you’ and it has the drop-in’s opening times and our contact details on it.
“But a few months ago, we received a report of someone sleeping out in Gateshead. He was in a shop doorway outside of the town centre. This had been reported anonymously, by a member of the public, to StreetLink who relayed the information to us and the local council’s homeless team.
“The Basis team went out before the drop in opened to see if we could locate the person. They were seen outside one of the shops wrapped in a blanket and a member of the public was giving them some food and a coffee.
“We approached them and started chatting: they had returned to the area after moving around from hostel to hostel, never settling anywhere. A friend of theirs had told them about some old outbuildings, which were abandoned and they had been sleeping in there. They had not been in touch with anyone to support them, felt a bit overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start.
“We told them about our Basis drop-in and what support we could offer them. He was open to the idea of getting a place in supported housing, as he said he needed help with a lot of things like managing his money and accessing support such as a substance misuse service. We explained we could help with all of that.
“We invited him to the drop-in to get a coffee and to shower and wash his clothes. We also made sure we took his phone number and asked his permission to speak to the council on his behalf which he agreed to. We said goodbye and explained where Basis was if he wanted to pop along.
“When we got back to the office we spoke to the homeless team at the council. They agreed that they would ring him to do an assessment ASAP. A short while later they rang to say that following a telephone assessment they had found him an emergency placement and he would be moving into longer term supported housing as soon as a space became available. While he was in the emergency hostel, he was supported to register with a GP, referred to the substance misuse service and supported to deal with the issues he had been having with universal credit.
“Without that anonymous referral that was put into Streetlink, we wouldn’t have known about him and would not have been able to act as quickly to get him the help someone rough sleeping really needed.”
StreetLink is a free service and exists to support people over 18 years old that are sleeping rough in England or Wales. If you think the person you are concerned about is under 18, please instead notify the police on 999.
How to contact StreetLink
The more details you can share with StreetLink the better the chance the person can be found by the outreach teams e.g. location, the time of the day you’ve see the person and as many identifying details as possible (gender, age, name etc.)
To alert us, via StreetLink, to help someone sleeping rough please use:
Phone: 0300 500 0914 (NB. This number can get busy, please use the website or app where possible)