Get practical help if you're on the streets

You can get help with everyday needs other than housing while you're homeless and sleeping on the street. This includes food, access to benefits and healthcare.

Free food if you’re sleeping on the streets

You can get free food at day centres, soup kitchens and food banks.

Find your nearest:

To get food from a food bank, you usually need a foodbank voucher. You can ask for a voucher from your GP, a local homeless charity or advice agency such as Citizens Advice.

Free showers, laundry and advice

You may be able to have a shower, do your laundry and charge your phone at a homeless day centre.

Healthcare

A GP can't refuse to register you just because you're homeless or you don't have proof of address or ID.

Find a GP on the NHS website or by calling 111

If you're asked for an address on the registration form, you can use the address of a:

  • hostel

  • day centre

  • friend or family member

If you're refused registration, ask the receptionist to write down the reasons for this. Show this NHS leaflet which explains your rights to register with a GP.

You can also get healthcare from:

There are specialist medical centres for people sleeping in hostels or on the streets. Some centres also help with mental health, alcohol and drug problems.

Voting

You must register to vote before you can vote in an election. You need proof of your identity to register. This can be your:

  • National Insurance number

  • birth certificate

  • passport

If you haven't got a fixed address you can vote as long as you've registered.

You can use the address where you spend the most time, including:

  • a friend's house

  • a hostel

  • a day centre

Fill in an Electoral registration form for someone with no fixed or permanent address.

If you don't have an address you can use, contact your local Electoral Registration Office.

If you have a dog

Pet fostering services

Various charities provide pet fostering services.

Search for foster care for your pet via the Dogs Trust if you're offered accommodation that doesn't accept pets.

Where you can store your things

If you need somewhere to store your furniture, clothes and other belongings, you can:

  • ask family or friends to store things

  • ask the council to help when you apply as homeless

  • find and pay for a storage unit near you

Council storage

The council may have to offer you emergency or temporary housing if you make a homeless application.

If the council provides accommodation it should also take steps to protect your belongings if:

  • you can't arrange storage yourself (for example, you can't afford it)

  • your belongings could get damaged or lost

The council will usually charge you for storage.

The council won't have to help with storage unless it has to provide you with accommodation but you can still ask for a list of local storage facilities.

Costs

You usually have to pay the council for removals and storage. Costs vary – check with your council's homeless department how much it charges.

The council might agree to you paying in instalments if you're on a low income or claim benefits.

You may be able to get help with storage costs though a local welfare assistance scheme. Find your council and ask if they run a scheme. 

Moving your belongings from council storage

The council may ask you to collect your things from their storage if:

  • your property is no longer at risk of damage or loss

  • you leave temporary housing

  • you get longer-term housing

  • the council decides you no longer qualify for help

  • you don't pay the charges

If you don't collect your things within a certain time, the council can dispose of them.

If you're sleeping on the streets

If you're sleeping on the streets, you might be able to store your belongings at a day centre.


Last updated: 8 November 2019

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