Can anyone homeless use The Connection?
Anyone can walk in off the street and access the service, it is free of charge. Anyone new to us receives an assessment to establish how we can help. The Night Centre is for people who are rough sleeping and also free of charge but people must be referred in advance either in-house or by another agency.
There are few accommodation options in Westminster so a large part of our work is focused on reconnecting people back to their home area, if appropriate, where they can access local services/housing and are safeguarded from sleeping rough on the streets of London.
Where does your street outreach team operate?
The outreach team, Westminster CAS, now provides street support across all of Westminster working in partnership with homeless services The Passage and St Mungos Broadway.
Do homeless people have to pay for hostel accommodation?
Hostel accommodation is paid for by the Housing Benefit Department. There will be a small service charge to cover utilities and usually meals which residents are expected to pay from their statutory benefit entitlement. Paying cash up front is not a requirement for getting into accommodation despite what people begging often state.
Can people get benefits if they have no address?
Yes. Many Day Centres offer an address to enable people to collect mail but you don’t have to have a fixed address to start a benefit claim.
Once someone is homeless will they always live on the streets?
No, there is hope and with the right support people can get back to living ‘normally’ again. The Connection has success stories from people who have slept rough for 10+ years who are now in housing and actively occupied through volunteering positions and work. Homelessness and the issues involved are complex so it takes time and perseverance for people to address the cause and fully recover.
Should I give money to someone begging on the street?
Most people who beg on the streets are using the money they receive to fuel a drug or alcohol addiction, which is extremely harmful to their health and frequently causes premature death. Giving money to someone can also prevent them from engaging with services which can help. Contrary to popular belief, and what people on the street may say, there is no cost to a homeless person to stay in a shelter, like our own, or a hostel which is usually covered by housing benefit. There are sufficient resources available to help people move their lives away from the streets without them needing to beg for money.
But it’s a complicated situation. For example, an exception to this is people who are foreign nationals waiting to resolve their immigration status, they are not entitled to benefits and may be destitute. Others might be being exploited by traffickers who force them to beg. Ultimately, of course it’s up to you whether you give or not.
What can I do to help someone on the streets?
- If you see someone sleeping rough please contact Street Link who will put that person in touch with local Street Outreach services which can help support the person away from the streets.
- If you want to give the person something you could ask them if they’d like a hot drink or something to eat
- If you want to support our work, The Connection also has lots of opportunities for you to get involved including volunteering and fundraising events. Click here for more info.
How many people are homeless in London?
There are over 7,500 people who sleep rough on the streets of London. People are attracted to central London from across the UK and internationally because of the opportunities they believe are available but if these do not materialise people find themselves homeless.
The Street Outreach team is effective at helping new arrivals working in partnership with initiatives like No Second Night Out and has ensured that 80% of rough sleepers do not spend more than one night on the streets of London.