How to help homeless people

Most homeless charities – ourselves included – don’t recommend giving money directly to people begging on the street. It has nothing to do with any judgement about how that money might be spent. Life on the streets is dangerous and extremely bad for physical and mental health – the average life expectancy for a rough sleeper is just 47 years.

By giving money, you’re keeping people on the streets: they’re vulnerable, they’re preyed upon and don’t always feel able to break free and find the help that they need. Not giving doesn’t mean you lack compassion: the opposite is true if you find a better way to help. Here are a few suggestions:

BUY – If someone is begging outside a shop, ask (never assume) whether he or she would like you to pick them up some food, a hot drink or whatever else they may need from inside. Toiletries are just as important as food and warm clothing.

DONATE Non-perishable food, toiletries and warm clothes are always welcome. Any good-condition household goods, books, CDs, DVDs , toys etc can be sold in the Reach Out shop at 488 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton.

Jeanette Park, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Chorlton’s Longford Centre, is looking for donations of sealed food, gardening equipment, art materials, toiletries, sports equipment and board games.

GIVE – Money you donate to Reach Out, or any homeless charity, is spent not only on physical needs, but also on practical help; whether that’s access to a computer to fill in benefits forms (now online only) travel costs or training.

GROW – Chorlton’s a nation of gardeners! If you have surplus crops this season, donate your fruit and veg to Reach Out and they, along with Cracking Good Food, will make sure nothing goes to waste.

HELP – “We’re looking for volunteers to help run sessions and activities at the Longford Centre,” says Jeanette. “Gardening, art, sports, cooking, job advice, photography, education, yoga classes and more. We also need help supporting residents to appointments and collecting donations.

If you’d like to give time or share knowledge, contact Jeanette on 061 234 1170.

You can volunteer for Reach out to the Community too: just call into the shop.