Homeless in London

If you are single, homeless, sleeping rough and not originally from London, you may find it difficult to get a temporary place in a hostel or nightshelter. Some services for homeless people may encourage you to leave the city.

Get help if you are homeless now

There are a number of ways to get in touch with homelessness services that can help you:

  • Call Shelter's London advice line on 0344 515 1540 for free housing advice in any London borough.
  • Call Streetlink on 0300 500 0914, 24 hours a day. They will put you in touch with local services who can help you.

These services may be able to help you with advice and support. They try to find a way to help you off the streets quickly.

Help if you're homeless in London

If you are settled in the UK and have a connection with a London borough, homelessness services may try to get you help there.

If you have recently arrived in London or are not already settled in a London borough, you are unlikely to be offered support in stay in London.

You could be offered help to return to somewhere where you have more of a base or connection. This could be another place in the UK.

If you're not from the UK, you could be offered help to return to your country of origin if you aren't able to claim benefits. These services may contact UK Visas and Immigration (formerly UKBA) on your behalf.

Can you claim benefits?

If you are homeless or facing homelessness, you have more housing options if you are allowed to claim welfare benefits.

You may be able to get housing benefit to help pay for a place in a hostel or private rented accommodation.

Many EU nationals have the right to claim benefits, as do many people from abroad with permission to stay in the UK.

Find out more from Housing Rights Information for recent arrivals about entitlements to housing and benefits, based on your immigration status.

It is important to get independent immigration advice on any questions relating to immigration law.

Some law centres and welfare centres such as Citizen's Advice also have immigration and benefits advisers.

Use Shelter's services advice directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.

How to survive in London with no money

London is an expensive city. Living there is not a long term option if you don't have a job or any income from benefits.

You may be able to get help from charities and find ways to survive.

In the short term, you may be able to get help from:

Returning to another place in the UK

If you are rough sleeping in London but would like help to return to your friends and family in a different part of the UK, No Second Night Out may be able to help you.

No Second Night Out can put you in touch with sources of support in other areas to help you get quickly and safely off the streets.

They can make arrangements for you while providing you with a safe place to wait for a day or two.

Returning to another EU country

If you are sleeping rough in London and are from the European Union (EU), there are some charities that could help to return to your home country.

These organisations can help you with obtaining travel documents, contacting your consulate, embassy or high commission and arranging free travel. They find services in your home country to support you when you return.

You are supported at all stages, sometimes including on your return journey.

If you are an EU national wishing to return home, contact Barka UK on 0800 171 1926 9am to 2pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Polish, Russian and English spoken.

The Routes Home website contains practical information including details of EU consulates and services available for vulnerable people in EU countries. The information is available in EU and other languages and could provide useful background information.

If your passport says you have 'no recourse to public funds'

If you have an immigration status that says you have leave to remain in the UK but 'no recourse to public funds', this means you are not entitled to welfare benefits support or help with housing in the UK.

It can be very hard to get help if you are not able to claim benefits in the UK and are sleeping on the streets.

A charity or faith group may be able to help you find food and temporary accommodation.

The following organisations may be able to help you find support:

If you are a refugee

If you have been accepted as a refugee, you aren't affected by 'no recourse to public fund rules'. You should be able to get help when homeless.

Find out more about welfare and integration services from the Refugee Council.


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