Connecting rough sleepers to local services

Frequently Asked Questions

StreetLink is a website, mobile phone app and telephone service through which people can take positive action when they see someone sleeping rough by sending an alert that connects that person to local services for support. 

StreetLink is an effective way to take positive action that has longer-term results. It can enable services to reach rough sleepers more quickly; this has positive impacts on their safety and wellbeing. 

StreetLink is a non-profit organisation managed and delivered by Homeless Link in partnership with St Mungo’s. It is principally funded by the UK Government (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), with additional funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Welsh Government. This funding does not represent any form of government endorsement of advertisements associated with StreetLink.

The member of the public provides details about the rough sleeper’s location and general appearance, which are sent to the correct, independent local homelessness outreach team, so they can locate the individual and connect them to support services. The person sending the alert initially receives details of the action the outreach team normally takes when they are told someone is sleeping rough, which will vary locally. StreetLink also finds out what has happened as a result of the alert within 14 days and, if requested, provides the member of the public with an update.

StreetLink is not an emergency service. If you think someone needs urgent medical attention, please call 999.

The more you can tell us, the better the chance the person can be found. Please give us much detail as you can about the location - you can use the map on the app to pinpoint your location and include description of things you see nearby. 

Telling us the time of the day you’ve see the person you are concerned about is really helpful and try and include as many identifying details as possible such as name, age, gender etc. 

It’s also useful if you let us know what they’re doing. If you can alert StreetLink to someone when the person is sleeping/bedded down then that will help the outreach team find them more easily. 

You can contact StreetLink via the website, mobile app and phone line and make an alert local authorities and street outreach services in England and Wales about people you have seen sleeping rough. 

The service can get busy so wherever possible we advise people to use either our website or mobile app, but if you cannot access the internet you can also get in touch via our phone line on 0300 500 0914.

Because the information you provide is sent to teams who will go out and look for the person you have seen at the location you give. If we do not have good details about the location, it can be extremely difficult to find the person.

This will usually be done by a street outreach team who have been commissioned by the local council to provide a service in their area. Outreach workers are trained to offer support and will look at the options available to help people who are sleeping rough.

Most outreach teams we refer to go out and night and during the early hours of the morning to find people who are rough sleeping. The frequency with which outreach teams operate varies across the country. Not every outreach team goes out every night, but they will use the information from StreetLink alerts on their next shift.

Most outreach teams we refer to go out and night and during the early hours of the morning to find people who are rough sleeping. The frequency with which outreach teams operate varies across the country. Not every outreach team goes out every night, but they will use the information from StreetLink alerts on their next shift.

Every situation is different but usually the outreach teams that find a person sleeping rough first undertake an assessment with the person. They will then work with them to look at solutions to try and end their rough sleeping; one of these options might be temporary accommodation. However, this work can sometimes take time, meaning that you might not see a change in the person's situation straight away although support is being offered.

StreetLink doesn’t provide accommodation. StreetLink is a website, phone app and telephone line that acts as a referral system and a way of a connecting people who are rough sleeping to local services for support. If you are in need of accommodation advice you can contact Shelter on 0808 800 4444, open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. 

Rough sleeping is defined as "People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down, in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation".

Begging and rough sleeping don't always go hand-in-hand; not all people who are begging are rough sleeping and vice-versa. This does not mean people who are begging don't need help, as in most cases they do, but they might need a slightly different type of support from local services. 

If someone is begging on the streets during the day it may not necessarily be in the same place they sleep at night. This means when outreach teams go out at night with information from an alert made during the day, they may not be able to find the person you were concerned about. This does not mean that your alert to StreetLink is wasted - it's always better to get in touch about someone you think may be rough sleeping so that local services can provide support if needed.

Ultimately, we believe that it’s someone’s own decision whether to give money to someone but there are several other ways to make a difference that might have a longer-term positive impact. The best thing to do is to use the StreetLink service, which will link the person up with local charities that can provide the best type of support.

What is SWEP?

Severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) aims to get people off the streets during periods of adverse weather, by providing emergency accommodation to anyone sleeping rough. 

Is there a duty to have a SWEP?

There is no legal requirement, but local authorities have a moral obligation to ensure that there is provision in place for people sleeping rough during severe weather, to prevent deaths on the streets.

When is SWEP activated?

There is no fixed trigger – the aim is to prevent harm and death. Some local authorities provide SWEP for every night forecast at zero or below; others open shelter when the ‘feels like’ temperature approaches zero or when there are yellow weather warnings. Some still use the historical minimum trigger of three nights forecast below freezing, but a more flexible approach is now recommended. 

For more information about SWEP, see Homeless Link’s guidance: www.homeless.org.uk/swep 

If you are having technical issues with the StreetLink website or Mobile App please send an email to informationteam@homelesslink.org.uk - please note that we cannot process StreetLink alerts sent through to this email address.