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Practical help if you're homeless and on the streets

Most homeless day centres offer somewhere warm for a hot drink or a chat.

They are usually run by charities and may have paid staff and volunteers.

Practical help from day centres

This could include:

  • internet access

  • free or cheap food

  • showers and laundry

  • safe storage for your bags

  • somewhere to charge your phone

  • clean clothes, toiletries or sleeping bags

Other services from day centres

Some homeless day centres have a range of other services, for example:

  • benefits or immigration advice

  • support with your health or finding work

  • educational, therapeutic or social activities

  • hostel, night shelter or outreach team referrals

Find a homeless day centre near you

Search for a day centre on the Homeless Link website

How to register with a doctor (GP)

You need to register with a GP surgery so you can see a doctor when you are sick.

It helps if you have at least 1 of the following:

  • passport

  • birth certificate

  • HC2 certificate

  • CHAIN number (if you're sleeping rough)

  • letter from a hostel or homeless day centre

You can be refused if the surgery or medical centre is full and not taking on new patients.

You should not be refused just because you do not have ID or proof of address, or because of your immigration status.

Ask the receptionist to write down the reasons if you are told you cannot register with a GP. You may be able to complain.

The NHS has more information on your rights to register with a GP.

Specialist medical centres

Some doctors offer specialist services for people who are homeless, including people with mental health, alcohol or drug problems.

Ask day centres and hostels about specialist medical centres in the area.

You may be able to find an NHS walk-in centre near to you. You do not need to register to see a doctor at a walk-in centre.

Find your nearest walk-in centre.

How to claim benefits

You can usually claim benefits if you're on the streets, sofa surfing or staying in a hostel.

Find out more about claiming benefits if you're homeless.

How to open a bank account

Most people who are homeless should be able to get a basic bank account.

Read our guide on how to open a bank account if you're homeless.

How to register to vote

Before you can vote in person in an election you must:

  1. Register to vote

  2. Show photo ID when you go to vote

Voter registration is sometimes called 'being on the electoral register'.

You can use a passport, driving licence, PASS card and some travel cards.

You can use these documents even if they are out of date if the photo still looks like you.

If you do not have a fixed address

You can use a special form to register if you do not have a fixed address.

Your local electoral registration team process the form and could help you fill it in.

Find the form and your council's electoral registration team

Call the Electoral Commission helpline on 0800 328 0280 if you need help.

If you do not have photo ID

You can apply for a voter authority certificate.

It's free and the council can take a photo of you.

Apply for photo ID on GOV.UK or ask your council to help you with the paper form.

Call the Electoral Commission helpline on 0800 328 0280 if you need help.

Who can register to vote?

You can register to vote if you are a British, Irish or EU citizen living in the UK. Some Commonwealth citizens can also register.

You must be at least:

  • 16 to register

  • 18 to vote

Find out more about which elections you can vote in on GOV.UK

Last updated: 27 February 2023

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