It is not true to say that there are no rough sleepers in County Durham and that those who are begging on the streets choose to do so – between July 2017 and June 2018, 88 rough sleepers in County Durham were referred to DASH. It is also inaccurate to accuse all rough sleepers of ‘aggressive begging’. Research by Homeless Link found that, while eight in ten people who experience homelessness and complex needs have slept rough, three in ten have engaged in street begging. Removing rough-sleepers from the street is far from an appropriate respond, which will not solve the structural causes of homelessness[1] (see Homelessness causes & Tackling homelessness). That said, giving money to rough sleepers might not be the best respond[2]. More appropriate responses are:

  • Giving food, a hot drink, or a blanket.
  • Asking what in particular they need.
  • Alerting StreetLink, a national organisation who will contact the local authority when they are made aware of rough sleepers.
  • Contacting Housing Solutions, Durham County Council’s organisation which aims to tackle homelessness.
  • In cases where someone is in serious distress, it may be more appropriate to contact the police and/or an ambulance.
  • To support the fight against homelessness more broadly, donate to national homelessness charities such as Shelter and Crisis, or a local charity like DASH. 

 

Housing Solutions:

Housing advice line – 03000 268 000

Email – [email protected]

Out of hours number - 01388 722 538

 

StreetLink:

Number - 0300 500 0914

Website – www.streetlink.org.uk

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[1] Guardian, Jan 2018. ‘Removing rough sleepers from Windsor's streets won't solve the problem.’ [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2018/jan/05/removing-rough-sleepers-windsor-homelessness-problem

[2] Hereford Times, Jan 2019. ‘Don't give money to rough sleepers, police say’. [Online] Available at: https://www.herefordtimes.com/news/17384541.dont-give-money-to-rough-sleepers-police-say/