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

Many who see someone rough sleeping feel helpless, not knowing the right thing to do.

If you don’t have a place to sleep, it can be deadly.

The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47, so it is vital we can get them off the streets as quickly as possible.

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.

This can be done electronically on our website

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 Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to co-ordinate a rough sleeper outreach team working across four boroughs – Richmond, 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, socks or underpants to hand out to any rough sleepers
  • Have available sugary foods such as chocolate or cereal bars as this helps keep 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 boroughs where SPEAR. works. Let the relevant people know about them. (Their website link is https://www.streetlink.org.uk/)

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



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

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