Helping homeless people in hot weather

Published: Thursday, 27th June 2019

The Met Office is forecasting rising day and night time temperatures that are expected to peak at 30 degrees on Saturday (29 June).

High temperature can affect anyone, but homeless people are at particular risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunburn. Oxford City Council is issuing the following advice for people who want to help people experiencing homelessness during hot weather.

Report a rough sleeper

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, contact Oxford Street Population Outreach Team (OxSPOT). We commission St Mungo’s to provide this service.

OxSPOT helps people experiencing homelessness to access accommodation and the support they need to rebuild their lives.

To give details about a rough sleeper, including their location, call OxSPOT during office hours on 01865 243229 or email [email protected].

OxSPOT is not an emergency service but it will follow up all calls and emails as soon as possible.

You can also report someone sleeping rough through www.streetlink.org.uk or call StreetLink on 0300 500 0914.

If you believe a rough sleeper’s health is in immediate danger, please call 999.

Day services

People experiencing homelessness can avoid the sun and get food, showers and shade at day services.

We fund day services that are provided by Homeless Oxfordshire, The Porch Day Centre and The Gatehouse.

Homeless Oxfordshire provides day services from its O’Hanlon House hostel in Luther Street from 10am to 3pm on weekdays and 10am to 2pm on weekends. O’Hanlon House provides shower and laundry facilities, and two meals a day. These are available to anyone sleeping rough who has been verified by OxSPOT. Users of day services can also access services provided to hostel residents, including training, education and activities.

The Porch Day Centre in Magdalen Road provides day long support for homeless and vulnerably housed people six days a week. Its services include two cheap hot meals a day, shower and laundry facilities, clothing, and a range of activities including ICT training and allotment work.

The Gatehouse is at 10 Woodstock Road, and provides a drop-in café for homeless and vulnerably housed people six days a week. It also offers free internet access, a clothes store and art, literacy and computer activities groups.

The best way to help people experiencing homelessness is to get them to come inside, where services can engage with them and provide the support they need to help them off the streets.

If you would like to give items like water, sunscreen, sunglasses or hats to people sleeping rough during hot weather, you can also donate these to Homeless Oxfordshire, The Porch Day Centre and The Gatehouse.

Water

OxSPOT is providing water and cups to people on the streets during its daily rounds, and water is also available to rough sleepers at day services.

As part of its campaign to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles, Refill Oxford has set up a network of refill stations throughout the city – where people can refill water bottles for free rather than buying a new one.

More than 170 businesses and organisations have signed up to the Refill scheme in Oxford. These include the Town Hall Café and our leisure facilities.

Participating organisations and businesses display a Refill sticker in their windows. You can find a full list of Refill stations by downloading the Refill app.

If you would like to sign up to the Refill network, you can do this through the app, by calling 07941 543709 or emailing [email protected].

Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “While many of us welcome the fact that the sun is finally out, people sleeping rough are especially vulnerable to hot weather. The best way to help people experiencing homelessness is to get them to come inside where support services can engage with them to help them off the streets.

“If you are concerned about someone on the streets during the summer months, please report them to OxSPOT or StreetLink. You can also help by giving your time, money or help in kind to the day services that provide water, food, showers and shade to people sleeping rough.”  

Information about how we deal with rough sleeping is at www.oxford.gov.uk/tacklinghomelessness.