Anna Lee, from the Rough Sleeping Prevention Service, answers some frequently asked questions.
Q: There are several people sleeping rough in the town centre. I really want to help them. Should I give them some money?
A: This is one of the most controversial questions we get asked. It often seems like the simplest way to help someone who is homeless. We know giving money is well-intentioned but it is our experience that at best it offers a temporary solution to someone and at worst; it can have devastating consequences if the money is used to support an addiction. It sounds cruel, but giving money to those sleeping rough simply sustains a life on the streets. At New Hope we believe getting people off the streets and into accommodation is the best way to bring about long-lasting positive change.
Q: If I meet someone or see someone who is homeless, is there a way of informing New Hope?
A: Yes! We have a 24 hour emergency advice line (0300 012 0168) that anyone can call. We have also partnered with Street Link (www.streetlink.org.uk/tell-us-about-a-rough-sleeper) which enables members of the public to alert us about people sleeping rough in the local area.
Q: My friends and I would love to go out at night and give food to people who are homeless in Watford. Please can you tell me where to find them?
A: Staying safe while rough sleeping is a huge concern for anyone experiencing homelessness. We therefore wouldn’t disclose details of where someone might be at night. The best thing you can do is encourage people to go to the Haven Support Centre on Whippendell Road to get a cooked breakfast and takeaway lunch. We also offer laundry and shower facilities and appointments with our skilled, trained support workers.
Q: I am deeply concerned about homelessness in Watford. What are some of the ways in which I can help?
A: There are many ways you can help those who are homeless in Watford, whether it’s time or money you want to give. New Hope is always in need of volunteers and we have a range of varied roles across our services to suit different timetables and skillsets. (See pages 14-15 for more on volunteering)
Financial gifts are essential to the stable and smooth running of the charity and you may wish to become a Friend of New Hope and give a regular financial donation (you can sign up online at newhope.org.uk/friend), or you may want to leave a legacy or simply give as and when you are able. You can also give much-needed items such as sleeping bags, socks and underwear.
You could also organise a fundraising event with friends, family or colleagues or take part in one of our events. Remember that whatever you are able to do, however big or small, helps New Hope to prevent homelessness in Watford and to transform lives.