Emergency housing if you’re homeless: winter shelters

Find out about winter shelters - how to get a place, how much they cost and what they're like.

Find a winter shelter near you

To find a winter shelter near you:

Search for hostels or night shelters in your area on Homeless Link

If you find a hostel, night shelter or winter shelter, call them and see if you need to:

  • book in advance or turn up in person
  • arrive by a certain time
  • have a local connection
  • get a referral, for example from the council, social services or an advice centre

You can find a list of London winter shelters on Homeless Link. 

The Pavement has a list that includes winter shelters outside of London.

What they offer

Winter shelters offer a basic place to stay overnight. They are often run by charities or faith-based groups.

You usually sleep in a communal space such as a church hall or day centre. The venue may change on a nightly basis.

Winter shelters can offer help with your practical needs, including:

  • free food, usually an evening meal and breakfast
  • toiletries
  • help finding a place to stay in the daytime and longer-term housing

Find out about getting more help with your practical needs.

When they're open

Some winter shelters open in November. Others open in January. Most winter shelter close at the end of March.

Many winter shelters close in the morning after breakfast. You need to leave and take your things with you. You may be able to return in the evening if a space is available.

Who they're for

Winter shelters are for anyone who would otherwise be on the streets. You don't need to be on benefits.

You probably can't stay in a winter shelter if you: 

  • have a dog
  • are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • have convictions for arson or violent offences

You need a local connection for some shelters.

How much they cost

They are usually free and food is usually free.

Last updated - 13 November 2019

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