What you should do if you see a Rough Sleeper?

What you should do if you see a Rough Sleeper?

Rough Sleeper Helpline (020 8404 1481) Outreach@spearlondon.org

For most of us, heavy snow is an inconvenience due to slippery pavements and the inevitable transport disruption.

If you don’t have a place to sleep, however, it can be deadly.
The most help you can offer is referring a rough sleeper to SPEAR  using the details above.  There is some key information that can help us.  Don’t worry if you can’t give us everything, any information is useful, but the more we have the more likely we are to be able to get someone out of the cold.

Key information we need about the Rough Sleepers: 

  •  Key details of the rough sleeper, for example are they male or female? Age? Skin colour? Hair colour? Items that had with them? (e.g. rucksack, sleeping bag, dog).
  • The precise location of the rough sleeper.
  • The most recent date and time that you identified and saw them
  • The reporters’ phone number, the reporters’ email address
  • Most importantly, we will need to know the borough of the rough sleeper e.g. Richmond, Wandsworth, Sutton, Merton and Kingston.

Please note that our Outreach Team are not a 24/7 emergency service.  Shifts to verify rough sleepers happen at night time or the early hours of the morning, staff can only respond to reporting during the office hours of 9am – 5pm.
SPEAR has been co-ordinating a rough sleeper outreach service in Richmond now for many years. In 2017, SPEAR was also commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government to co-ordinate a rough sleeper outreach team working across five boroughs – Richmond, Merton, Sutton, Kingston and Wandsworth.

There are many things you could offer to a rough sleeper, a few examples are listed below

You could:

  • Carry a spare pair of gloves to hand out to any rough sleepers
  • Have available sugary foods such as chocolate or cereal bars; as this keeps energy levels up
  • Be sure to refer the Rough Sleeper to SPEAR, by using the Rough Sleeper Outreach
  • As it’s so cold outside, offer any rough sleepers hot food and drink from local catering shops or supermarkets.  Where possible ask what sort of food they want/can eat as people have allergies or could be vegetarian.
  • Spend time with that person – keep them company, chat to them.
  • Streetlink is another useful alternative, in which you can refer a rough sleeper if you see them outside of the five boroughs where SPEAR. works. Let the relevant people know about them. (Their website link is https://www.streetlink.org.uk/)


Nobody should be sleeping out on the streets in this weather.


If you are worried about a rough sleeper from any of these five boroughs, contact SPEAR at



THANK YOU for helping us to help those most vulnerable in our society, sleeping rough on our streets.

Leave a Reply