1. Street life
Although hard to believe, homelessness continues to be a big problem in the UK.
The reasons people find themselves in this situation are many, and vary from person to person. Some of those might include a lack of employment or affordable housing, income inequality, substance abuse, poor health, relationship abuse, the rising cost of living standards and more.
While each homeless person's story is unique, one thing is clear: it could happen to anyone – even you. So could you survive a life spent on the streets?
2. WATCH: How did we get here?
Watch the video below to find out about the contributing factors and main reasons people find themselves living on the streets in the UK in 2016.
3. Making it through
John Bird remembers life on the streets
Falling into homelessness is bad news. When you become homeless you are no longer a part of society, no longer a part of democracy - you fall through the cracks and become nothing more than a statistic.
Having been there myself I do not recommend it.
As a child and as a young man I would walk around places I knew and they were made different because I had nowhere to go. Once the pubs closed, once the shops shut, once the street lights came on, there was nothing.
And it’s then you realise how many people are out there to prey on you, to use you. You will be surprised how many people have a warm place where you will be safe… until you get there.
Make no mistake, homelessness is the pits. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are people who can help.
Making a difference
There are groups out there who can lift you out of homelessness. Working tirelessly to offer help and support, they can make all the difference when it comes to someone surviving the streets.
And that’s why it’s important for us to support these groups, to help them help others.
If you see a vulnerable person hiding or sleeping rough then let these groups know so they can offer that help, so they can get vulnerable people off the streets as soon as possible.
Can people survive a life on the streets? Can they find their way out of a lifetime of homelessness? Yes they can, but only with that crucial help.
It really can make all the difference.
4. A day in the life
Living on the streets can be different for each person. However, according to a case study by a Wales-based homeless charity, there are certain experiences common to a number of people. Click through the different time panels in the slideshow to see what a person living on the streets may face on a daily basis.
5. Surviving the streets
The following advice is based on information from various homeless charities on how people can survive living on the streets and where to get help if they find themselves homeless.
- It’s important to stay warm. Day centres provide warmth and shelter when it’s cold or raining, and are usually open during the day.
- Find a safe place to sleep where other people are sleeping, like a hostel or cold shelter. Brightly lit, sheltered areas are best.
- Free and cheap food is available to you. Charities may provide soup runs, while food banks can also help. Day centres often offer cheap meals too.
- If you need to store your belongings for a limited amount of time it’s worth checking with day centres and hostels as they may be able to do this.
- You can still claim benefits if you don’t have a permanent address. Benefits can be claimed through Jobcentre Plus, where you can also find work.
- Keep in touch with friends and families by using the phone in a day centre, or by email at your local library.
- You can register with a doctor if you don't have a fixed address. NHS walk-in centres have emergency care, and day centres have medical support.