Rough sleepers are defined (for statistical purposes) as people sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air such as on the streets, or in shop doorways or park benches. Rough sleepers are the most visible and vulnerable group of homeless.  It is important to remember that rough sleeping is not a crime.

Rough sleepers generally have complex needs. Many have complicated backgrounds and may well have experienced extreme trauma/neglect in their early lives. As a result of this and combined with long periods of rough sleeping, many suffer from additional mental and physical health issues and find it hard to function in everyday life. These individuals become very vulnerable and may also have continued dealings with the police and the criminal justice system.  A further consequence of their vulnerability can often be drug and alcohol addiction.  Women are particularly vulnerable with many experiencing violence and sexual assault on the streets. 

Because of the very complex challenges faced by some rough sleepers, a weekly Homeless and Vulnerable meeting is held to discuss how best to support those who would benefit from a multi-agency support approach.  Agencies who attend these meetings include our Housing Options and Vulnerability and Complex Needs teams, Westward Housing, Leonard Stocks Centre and Shrublands, among others. 

Help available to people who rough sleep

If you find yourself sleeping rough on the streets, there are local services that can help. 

  • We will see you the same day if you have nowhere to stay tonight, or your accommodation is not safe for you, for example because of domestic violence.
  • Leonard Stocks have:
    • Hostel and safe space accommodation (subject to availability)
    • Food and cooking facilities
    • Showers and facilities to wash clothes or pick up replacement clothing
    • Access to a GP
    • Ability to use the address to access any benefits you are entitled to
    • Support in accessing mental health or substance misuse services
    • Access to Growing for Life and other therapeutic activities and training
    • Advice and support to help get back into employment

If you are worried about someone who is rough sleeping there is now a telephone number for the public or any organisation to call and pass on their concerns so that the person can receive help. It is 01803 217890 and is available 24 hours a day.