The Homeless


Me and the missus have just been chatting about some of the people who are on a job seekers course she has been told to attend. The majority of attendees are in their 40's and 50's, having fallen on hard times, with little prospect of finding gainful employment.

It got us thinking about all the people who have fallen victim to homelessness - often through no fault of their own, or just plain bad luck.
I seem to pass more and more homeless people on the streets at night in frigging Baltic conditions.

I was touched recently when two youngsters went and bought a take away meal for themselves and bought an extra meal for a homeless guy freezing on the road outside. It wasn't even a happy slapping joke; it was genuine kindness from a couple of teens.

Ok, the point to this thread is what would you give to a homeless person this winter (it may even be an ex squaddie who needs the help). What's most appropriate:

a. small amount of money.
b. warm clothing.
c. a hot meal.
d. a christmas box - op tour style - fags, food, toothbrush, razor etc
e. doss bag
f. Just the time of day.

I'm not sure; any ideas?
You're right fishy, theres a lot of tragic stories out there. I have a very nice comfortable home, and often reflect on how lucky I am.
For that reason, I have a monthly standing order with these people:-


I don't think I've seen shelter before, cheers.

But what would the man in the street appreciate as a walk by gesture. I've got a couple of old pat doss bags and I would'nt mind putting a couple of small packages together for crimbo.


War Hero
I was in London recently and got chatting to a fairly scruffy individual who was ex forces. He was wearing a bit of DPM and still carrying his sleeping bag. He said there are a lot of ex military on the streets.

He had been on the streets for over a year after breakdown of marriage, had no kids and had been sacked from his job for poor attendance after said breakdown of marriage. Chatted for a while to ensure he wasn't bluffing about the ex forces bit and found out his wife had got him to leave because she didn't like the Army, his mates, operations etc.

He had left after 7 years, wishes he hadn't and had occasionally looked into the ACIO windows when he passed. He had been tempted to go in and ask if he could rejoin but couldn't handle anymore rejection. He said ex forces people were generous with their time and with a bit of cash or food. Bought him a sarny and a brew as that was all he wanted. Asked me if he could borrow my Jack Russell at weekends, reckoned he could make a few quid just sitting there with her on his lap.
razors, soap, socks, comb, underwear, travel kits from hotels, sewing kits etc

sports bags in decent condition, the homeless usually have bags that are falling to bits

clothes and shoes

all the above are welcomed by the homeless

and your time, go and work in your local soup kitchen, some of the guests have some interesting stories to tell

passed my week's luncheon vouchers onto an ex para today who lives in a tent by the river
This is a great thread to have mate.

Kindness is not something homeless people get, most people ignore them. I personally go out of my way to talk to them, and give them a couple of pounds. I have been shocked at the number of ex-squaddies on the streets, bloody disgraceful in fact.

The packs sound like a great idea mate.



I think the short answer is anything -including just spending time with them.

Money may be spent on drugs or booze - although I did once take a couple of homeless guys a couple of cans of stella (I wanted one myself (can that is) and I didn't fancy a diamond white). They were most appreciative as most people were just walking by ignoring them;

"Spare any change mate?"

"No, but I'll buy you a beer"

I had a 10 minute chat with them, turned out that one of them was an ex-squaddie - which isn't a surprise as percentage wise ex-squaddies represent a really high proportion of people on the street.

As an aside by accident we (team) discovered that one of my guys was buying a sausage sarnie and taking it to a homeless guy about 5 mins from the workplace. He did it on and off for 2 years and never let on. When someone spotted him he 'owned up'. That's what I call real charity.


Sneezeclown said:
Money may be spent on drugs or booze - although I did once take a couple of homeless guys a couple of cans of stella (I wanted one myself (can that is) and I didn't fancy a diamond white). They were most appreciative as most people were just walking by ignoring them;

"Spare any change mate?"

"No, but I'll buy you a beer"

Great sentiment but I would beg you not to buy a homeless person a beer!
Many homeless people are recovering alcoholics and battle with staying off the demon drink. By offering alcohol to someone who has been staying dry you are not only adding to the problem, you could be actually signing their death warrant.
Many night shelters and hostels won't take someone in if they have been drinking, and with the nights getting colder and alcohol lowering the bodies temperature...back on booze their life can only get worse. You get the picture.
The very best thing you can do for a homeless person is treat them as a friend. Spend time talking with them helping them to recover some self esteem and self respect. Making sure that they have a warm coat, hat and gloves and a sleeping bag and food in their belly and most importantly making sure that they know where the local soup kitchens/ homeless advice centres are all helps. If the chap is definately ex forces make sure that he has ex forces charity helpline numbers at the very least.
Why not consider volunteering to work a shift at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen? Supporting outreaches that are already in place makes good sense.


I would like to think that this might make a difference but have a horrible feeling it could turn out to be just be another bit of reality television exploitation:

Friday 8 December 2006

You Could Be Part Of A Documentary Looking At Homelessness

The series has been inspired by the immensely popular ’Urban Plunge’ which is a programme run by a university in the States, and which thousands of people take part in each year. These people attempt to promote understanding of issues affecting the poor and needy by choosing to spend 3 days living and working in urban settings without their material possessions, tackling urban challenges and living and working alongside the impoverished and the homeless.

The Urban Plunge experience has never been attempted in the UK and the BBC are hoping to draw from it to give British people the opportunity to take part in a similarly rewarding experience over a three week period in January and February 2007. They will be filming from the last week of January and the first two weeks of February.

During this time the contributors will experience London in a totally new and unique way. They will be fully immersed in the grittier side of life and will spend a good deal of time working directly with the homeless, within homeless organisations and shelters. The BBC are looking for successful and affluent people to take part as they are very much hoping that the participants will be able to use their business know-how to facilitate positive changes tackling problems facing urban areas throughout the experience, and possibly afterwards as well.

The project will be both physically and mentally challenging and they are hoping to find six people who are willing to push themselves personally whilst hopefully making a difference to the issue of homelessness and highlighting the problems urban areas face.

If you are interested to take part in this amazing documentary call Kate Nixon on 020 7497 4063 or e mail


I seem to recall a thread where someone mentioned if there was a way of recognising or distinguising homeless ex squaddies on the street. Anyone seen anything on this?
fishfingers, Your post made me act. I put together some Tobacco, Rizla, Soap, Razors, hot drinking items and warm clothes. It took me only a couple of days to put to gather and hand over to the Salvation Army in Bedford. They were happy to get the items and said they would hand them out at the soup kitchens.

Thanks for your post and making me act.

Not a piss take but... Can I just ask if many of these people an be considered homeless by choice?

Does the state/pvt organizations not provide temporary shelters and is not unemployment benefits available?

Or are there people who just do not satisfy the criteria eg. Alcoholic hence unable to help themselves etc?

I ask because I watched a documentary by Ray Gosling a while ago and it seems as if shelter is available if it is wanted, although of course, it might not be at a specific place/locality.
1, Homeless by choice. A lot of homeless people suffer from mental illness and others have just fell on hard times.
2, Temporary Shelter and Unemployment Benefit. Temporary shelter isn't a permanent address so Benefits aren't given. The local connection rule also comes into affect, a homeless person, also has to prove a local connection to the area in which they are homeless to get long term help.
3, Alcoholic hence unable to help themselves . I believe I've answered this question, above. However, There isn't enough funding to help homeless people with an addiction, so they go unaided.
4, Ray Gosling a while ago and it seems as if shelter is available if it is wanted. No there isn't enough shelter out there for the homeless. In fact in London, there has been a shelter set up to help ex-service personnel off the streets. They have to turn people away as they don't have enough room.



Anyone who wants to know more about homelessness should have a look at
Click the tab marked Policy & Research and you will find all the definitions of various types of homelessness and the reasons why some people (especially single people) are not eligible for help.

Crisis is a charity that works year round to try to give homeless people a better chance to integrate back in to society.
I'm just about to move to Germany to work on Salvation Army Red Shield, but I have spent the last 15 years running various hostels around the country.

I can confirm there is only a small percentage of "homeless by choice", and just this morning I was speaking to someone who spent 20 years in this category, but has now held down accom. for 10 years after some intensive resettlement work.

Homeless/temp. shelter DO get benefit. Local connection can be got around, but takes work from the hostel.

Addictions (drink, drugs, gambling being biggest)in general are really prevelent - maybe 66% on average. Mental Health issues also really high - sometimes reallty severe psychosis.

There is definitely not enough accom. Rough Sleeping surveys, which help formulate gov. policy, are taken from those who are literally asleep. Therefore, if you shine a torch into a cardboard box and someone inside responds, they are not asleep, therefore not rough sleepers, therefore no provision required.

Ex-service personnel are definitely homeless; not necessarily in massive numbers, but often worse off than others. You are well looked after (honest) during your service years, and this can feel like it has dropped away on leaving. Some just can't cope. I recently did the funeral of an ex-squaddie; nicest guy you could meet, only early 30's. Could see no value in his life after leaving Army, so literally drank himself top death. I have rarely seen such a well attended and emotional funeral, but homelssness kills.


I met a homeless bloke at Waterloo station recently turns out he is an ex inf Sgt, I have managed to get together a couple of fleeces some waterproof gear, toiletries, doss bag etc for him.

Today I spoke to someone at SSAFA, very helpful indeed, and if this guy wants further help they will be able to get him some accommodation and also pass his details on to the relevant regimental association.

The advice they gave me was very good, spend time with him, buy food and give clothing etc, they don't suggest giving too much in the way of cash and say to avoid buying alcohol.

If you can get details from these guys and they want help then pass the details on to SSAFA, they will go out and help them. The key seems to be that the person in question must want help.
bigpod you have clarified some of the areas I tried to explain earlier on in this thread.

Local Connection plays a very big part in the resettlement of homeless people, and it shouldn't be permitted to happen.
How can a person on streets claim Benefits with no fixed abode? If they are lucky enough to get into sheltered accomodation then yes they can get benefits, but otherwise they can't. I believe I'm correct in saying that. Please correct if I'm wrong.

Do you know the % of ex-military rough sleepers at present in this country? this would of course be a government stat.

A friend of mine recently surrendered her socks to a guy sitting in a doorway at Victoria station in the cold snap before Christmas with BARE feet!!.....she went up in my estimation by about 3000 percent.

poor b@stard had been turned over for his shoes and socks and his doss bag but was caught in the shelter trap of having to remain on the streets to get a place...

I've been there myself, thankfully only for a couple of months after I got out and the wheels came off, I was lucky in the fact I still had a great family and lots of mates (who all went Rhino when they found out i was kipping rough) who sorted me out, and put me back on track.... well, as on track as it ever gets with me :)

The conversation bit is a deffo, I'm still bezzers with a few of the old and bold harry ramps around my way... and they love nothing better than a chin wag and someone to actually acknowledge their existence.

Yes there are "professional" beggars, mainly in London and the big cities so practical help as mentioned above is always better than cash, you'll soon flush out who's really in need or not, and charities like shelter and the sally army are always looking for help...

Its a massively hidden problem, you dont have to be sleeping in a box to be homeless, theres hundreds of thousands of people living in hostels, and kipping on peoples sofas all over the country, and yet theres thousands upon thousands of properties sitting empty.

So just once in a while, give that bloke sitting on the doss bag a second glance, and perhaps 2 minutes of your time,

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