Helping people experiencing homelessness during hot weather

Published: Thursday, 16th June 2022

Over the next few days, the Met Office is forecasting high day and night time temperatures that are expected to peak at 31 degrees on Friday (17 June).

High temperature can affect anyone, but people experiencing homelessness are at particular risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunburn.

Nobody should have to sleep rough and everybody can do something to help. Oxford City Council is issuing the following advice for anyone who wants to help people experiencing homelessness during hot weather.

Report concern about someone

If you are concerned about someone who is experiencing rough sleeping, contact Oxford Street Population Outreach Team (OxSPOT).

OxSPOT helps people experiencing homelessness to access accommodation and the support they need to rebuild their lives. We commission St Mungo’s to provide this service.

To give details about someone experiencing rough sleeping – including their location – call OxSPOT during office hours on 07590 862049 or email Outreach.Oxford@mungos.org

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

You can also report a concern through the StreetLink website or app, or by calling 0300 500 0914.

If you believe someone’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 The Gatehouse and The Porch Day Centre.

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

In a partnership project with Aspire Oxford, The Gatehouse hosts a women’s hub from 11am to 1pm on Thursdays. The Gatehouse also runs a shower project which is open on Monday and Tuesday between 4pm and 6pm. Guests can book a space during café opening hours or by emailing zoe@oxfordgatehouse.org

The Porch Day Centre in Magdalen Road is currently operating a restricted service which means it is not open for general drop-in. The centre now provides a lunch takeaway service from 12pm to 2pm on weekdays, as well as a range of activities including allotment work. The Porch is working towards reopening its full range of services, including shower and laundry facilities.

Other services

On Friday (17 June) Homeless Oxfordshire will open O’Hanlon House to anyone experiencing rough sleeping who wants to get out of the sun.

A group of Oxford churches has also opened The Living Room, a referral-only service for up to six people which opens on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. As well as respite from the heat, The Living Room offers free internet access, shower and laundry facilities, hot and cold drinks and snacks.

Water

OxSPOT will provide water, cups and sunscreen to people on the streets during its daily rounds, and water is also available at day services.

As part of its campaign to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles, Refill 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.

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.

The Town Hall Café and all of our leisure facilities have signed up to the Refill scheme. Leisure centres also offer a free three month introductory membership for anyone accommodated in hostels or supported housing through the adult homeless pathway.

Donate

We believe the best way to help people experiencing homelessness is to support them to come inside, where services can engage with them and offer the help they need to leave the streets behind.

If you would like to give items like water, sunscreen, sunglasses or hats to people experiencing rough sleeping, you can donate these to services as well as directly to individuals.

You can find details of services and how you can help with time, money or in kind on the Oxfordshire Homeless Movement website

Comment

“While many of us are enjoying the sunny weather, heat can pose particular risks to people experiencing rough sleeping.

“Nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and we believe the best way of achieving this is to support people to come inside where 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 your concern 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 experiencing rough sleeping.”  

Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing