logo

How many older people are sleeping rough?

In 1996 there were between 273-389 people sleeping rough in Central London.

It is estimated that up to 39% of this population were aged 50+ representing up to 140 older homeless people sleeping rough. In the rest of England and Wales it has been estimated that up to 560 older homeless people (50+) are sleeping rough. This provides an estimated total of around 700 older people sleeping rough in England and Wales as a whole.

Are older people more vulnerable on the streets?

Some older people avoid using day centres or hostels due to a fear that they may be assaulted or robbed.

News

For the latest news, events and developments impacting on older homeless people turn to this section. If you have news items to contribute please let us know through our contact page.

Information

Facts and figures, publications, bibliography and links to related websites.

Supporting People

The Coalition is working towards better recognition of older homeless people in Supporting People strategies. A report has been published which explores the opportunities for older homeless people under Supporting People.

Membership

Details of how to join the Coalition, agendas and minutes of meetings, and a list of member organisations.

How many older people are living in hostels?

Surveys of hostels carried out in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester found that 26-35% of residents are over the age of 50 In Glasgow in 1996 there were only 86 homeless people housed through emergency statutory services. However, in January 1997, there were 641 people over 55 in temporary hostels and hotels representing 35% of the hostel population; at least 12 older men were known to be sleeping rough

The lack of suitable move-on accommodation for older people means that they spend longer in short stay hostels than other groups. Research in London found that 30% of hostel residents had been in short term hostel beds for over a year.

In 1997 it was estimated that up to 4,980 referred themselves to bed and breakfast hostels in Greater London. In the rest of England and Wales it was estimated that up to 21,960 older homeless people (50+) were self-referrals to bed and breakfast accommodation and did not appear in official statistics. This provides a total of 26,940 living 'unofficially' in bed and breakfast in England and Wales .

The Coalition will seek further support for its policy objectives over the coming year and is determined that the problems experienced by older people should be given a higher profile across the UK. The Coalition has asked politicians and policymakers to sign the following statement.

Newsletter

So far three specialist newsletters have gone out to over 800 homelessness organisations. The newsletter has identified specific areas of homelessness policy of relevance to older people and has explored campaign themes such as resettlement and street outreach work with the help of experts in these fields. In future we will improve the quality and regularity of the newsletter, which we hope will encourage older homelessness services to communicate with each other and share their expertise.

Conclusions

Based on the statistical information outlined above we can roughly estimate that up to 48,000 older people are unofficially homeless in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland over 4% of acceptances were of older people However, guidance to local authorities suggests that 'old age' should be defined as people aged 60+, although some local authorities may consider people aged 50+. This means that many older people over 50 may not be accepted as homeless due to old age depending on the interpretation of individual local authorities There is a lack of awareness of older homelessness as a specific aspect of the overall problem. An analysis of Hansard showed that between October 1998 and July 2000, there were 326 items on homelessness, of which 24% referred to young people, yet less than one per cent made any reference at all to older people.

How we can help the homeless

Every day, people walk past homeless persons and pay no mind to their existence on sidewalks, in subway stations, in the stores’ parking lots, in parks. It is hard for them to ask for help when all they get is diverted eyes and ignorance. Whether you intend to offer them a warm meal, or you wish to donate your clothes for charity, sometimes the smallest actions can make a difference to someone’s life. The cause of homelessness includes many reasons. From a job loss, a deceased spouse or child, domestic violence, family abandonment to severe mental or physical conditions and disabilities, drug addictions or criminal convictions, all the men and women who live on streets have been stricken by these kinds of tragedies and have not found a support system to seek guidance when they were in need. Some of young ones are constrained to beg by organized crime groups.

A big part of the older homelessness population has become that way later in life. Older individuals have found it hard to keep their house and goods, when they have a really small amount of money for expenses. Usually, these persons are low-skilled and worked for the most part of their lives poorly paid jobs. Others have been in this situation on and off for a long period of time. They spent years traveling through prisons or hospitals. There are plenty of ways to help the poor. Do not just stay at home on Camplace and get involved in your community and build them a better future. Use your spare time, cash and skills to make a change. The simplest way to help is to donate money directly to them or to a non-profit organization, church or other institutions. Most charities know what their biggest needs are.

Donate used or new things to the people you see often. Items like winter clothing, underwear, hygiene goods, first aid products, clothes for a potential job interview and more. Provide them with food like canned items, fruits and vegetables, sandwiches or treat them to a local eating place with a hot soup. There is nothing better than warm food on a cold winter day. If you see someone in danger or with a health problem, do not hesitate and immediately call emergency services.

If you have the opportunity to offer someone a job, do it. You can hire them to mow the yard, clean your garage and so on. There is no doubt, they will be grateful even for the little money they earn. Increase the homeless men’s income and buy the newspapers they sell. Also, you can volunteer at local organizations which focus on finding homes, work and education, at soup kitchen for an extra serving hand, or at a shelter to support their functioning.

For a better understanding of their necessities, talk to them and find out their life story. This will form a bond between both of you and he or she will be more open to receive help. Look for their family members or friends and treat them friendly and with respect. Many men and women have received help and restored their life because somebody reached out. If you meet someone who needs a hand, show them you care!