As temperatures continue to rise, Operations Manager Dean has opened up about the impact of hot weather on rough sleepers and how you can help.
While sleeping rough is dangerous all year round, hot weather and higher temperatures can lead to increased risks of illness and even death for people without a home.
According to national charity St Mungo’s, every summer there are a number of excess deaths due to the negative impacts of hot weather. It is estimated that nationally there are 75 extra deaths in the general population per week for each degree of increase in temperature.
Rough sleepers are at a higher risk because they’re more likely to be exposed to the heat outside. They’re typically more vulnerable and less able to take preventative measures, such as regularly applying sun cream or staying hydrated, due to social exclusion and lack of finances.
Operations Manager Dean oversees our community housing service. He’s explained how we’re supporting customers through the hot weather and shared his tips for how we can all help those sleeping rough this summer.
“We all love the sunny weather and take advantage of it by sitting in the garden and having a BBQ,” said Dean.
“After a hot day at work, we can’t wait to get home, take a cold shower, change our clothes and put the fan on. This is a luxury that so many people don’t have!
“Many of us don’t even consider how dangerous it can be for those sleeping rough on the streets. Imagine not having a home to go to or not having access to a cold wash for relief from the heat. For many people across the city, that is their reality.
“Within the sector we consider risks such as sunburn, sun stroke, dehydration and people simply not having anywhere to wash and cool down. Rough sleepers are at risk by sleeping on the hot tarmac streets which can burn their skin.
“People sleeping rough on the streets are more vulnerable for many different reasons. They’re more likely to be outside and exposed to the hot weather and direct sun. They could also be sleeping in places like tents, where it can get very hot very quickly. They might be carrying lots of items and wearing multiple layers of clothing, walking across the city to find shelter and access services.
“They may also have underlying health conditions that alter the body’s response to heat. If they don’t have access to healthcare these can worsen over time. If they are consuming alcohol or drugs, which we know is often a response to homelessness rather than a cause, this can impact their temperature, making them warmer and increasing the chance of dehydration.
“There is also the general year-round problem of rough sleepers facing isolation and stigma from the rest of society. This can make it difficult for them to access assistance and support when they need it. That’s why it’s so vital for us to raise awareness and ask the public to look out for them too.”
Dean said that we’re ‘all stocked up’ at Concrete with suncream, bottled water and cold drinks to keep our customers cool. He also explained how you can give charities like ours a helping hand this summer.
“If you see someone sleeping rough in this heat, the first thing you can do to help is simply check if they are OK,” explained Dean.
“Speak to them and be friendly – they are human beings like you and me. You can get in touch with the local Rough Sleepers team by calling 0800 970 2304, to make them aware that someone is sleeping rough in hot temperatures.
“If they’re outside a shop and you want to buy them something to help, ask what they would like. Cold drinks, especially water, or an ice lolly or ice cream are always good ideas.
“You can also get in touch with local charities to see if they need any support. At Concrete we have a pantry where we stock up on food and essentials for our customers.
“Donations of items like sun cream, bottled water and cold drinks are always welcomed so that we can support rough sleepers across the city.”