If  you know OutsideIn, you’ll know that homelessness is what gets us up in the morning and out to work. It is the reason we exist and the issue that our mission is aimed at solving. For us, homelessness has an everyday-importance. However, we are grateful that there is at least one global awareness day that is dedicated to shedding light on this issue too. 

On the 10th of October each year, the world recognises the difficulties that face people experiencing homelessness all across the globe. There are countless ways to participate in this day focused on helping those in need; however, the best and most essential place to start is educating ourselves on what that help looks like and how we can be a part of it. 

Did you know that in England alone there are 282,000 individuals who have been officially recognised as experiencing homelessness? ‘Officially’ meaning that there are thousands more who have not been accounted for and who are in the position of what is known as ‘hidden homelessness’. People who are experiencing hidden homelessness often don’t realise they are in a position of homelessness and as a result, many do not seek help. But hidden homelessness is simply one of many other types of homelessness that affect people in the UK and around the world.

There are many terms that describe the different types of homelessness someone may face; however, some of the most typical include rough sleeping, statutory homelessness, episodic homelessness and chronic homelessness. Here are some simple explanations for these different kinds of homelessness:

Rough sleeping

Rough sleeping is the most visible and dangerous form of homelessness, and when most people think of a homeless person they tend to think of someone sleeping rough on the streets. The longer someone experiences rough sleeping the more likely they are to face challenges around trauma, mental health and drug misuse.



Statutory homelessness

Local authorities have a duty to secure a home for some groups of people. This is often referred to as the main homelessness duty. Every year, tens of thousands of people apply to their local authority for homelessness assistance.

To be legally defined as homeless you must either lack a secure place in which you are entitled to live or not reasonably be able to stay. However, in order to receive assistance under the main homelessness duty, there are further strict criteria that you have to meet. Local authorities may initially provide temporary accommodation to households who might meet these criteria, mainly families with children.



Chronic homelessness

Chronic homelessness is used to describe people who have experienced homelessness for at least a year — or repeatedly — while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder, or physical disability.


Episodic homelessness

Episodic homelessness can turn into chronic homelessness if the individual experiencing it does not receive the appropriate support they need to break their cycle of homelessness.

An individual is considered to be experiencing episodic homelessness when they are having recurring problems with finding housing, and they often have an inconsistent income that results in a lack of ability to find and secure housing.


However, it’s important for us to remember and recognise that even within these grouped terms, homelessness is highly personal and it looks different to each person experiencing it.



Although this means that no one experience of homelessness is the same, there are some common challenges that face those who are affected by homelessness. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  1. Seasonal difficulties: We all know that when the weather changes, so do our lives, our clothing, our priorities and our needs. This is no different for those experiencing homelssness. But unlike how we can easily adapt these things to fit with the changing seasons, people experiencing homelessness often can’t. Whether that is inadequate clothing, shelter and even food, the weather causes many problems for people in need. 
  2. Unseen difficulties: These difficulties relate to the unseen emotional and mental needs that face us as humans. We all have intrinsic needs that, if left unmet, can have a huge impact on our lives and even affect us physically. Things such as dignity, emotional support, mental health, community and more are all crucial needs. However, in a situation of homelessness which often causes isolation, disrespect and rejection, these needs go amiss. 
  3. Physical health difficulties: When we are ill, injured and experiencing an abnormal physical issue, we have the luxury of turning to doctors or professionals to help us. However, when people experiencing homelessness face these same challenges, there is no adequate help available to them which can lead them to become chronically ill and in some cases, their lives may even be at risk altogether. 
  4. Basic needs difficulties: We are all aware of our basic needs that we as humans require in order to survive. To quote NASA, these are food, water, air, and shelter. Simple, right? However, for people experiencing homelessness these absolutely basic and critically essential needs are not always met. Whether it be a lack of healthy, adequate food, access to clean, drinkable water, clean air, or some form of shelter, people experiencing homelessness often miss out on these things that are vital to our survival.

These issues are just a tiny scratch on the surface of the issues facing those in need and there are countless other more nuanced challenges that they face each day. This is one of the reasons it is so important that we educate ourselves and interact with those in need because without doing so, we risk misunderstanding what we can do that will truly help.

But although solving these issues may feel like an overwhelming, even impossible task, we can be encouraged to know that there are many things we can do to help - even if just in small, simple ways.

Here’s how:

1. Volunteer at your local charity or soup kitchen: Giving our time is one of the best and easiest ways to make a difference!


2. Donate essential items or clothing: Many supermarkets or charities provide lists of items that are needed for people who can’t afford or access them. Have a look at what small items you can buy when you next go grocery shopping and donate them to your local food bin.



3. Show kindness to someone in need: Many people who are rough sleeping often go days without a single conversation because people are too busy or too afraid to stop. Be the one to break that cycle and stop to remind someone that they are seen, acknowledged and valued. Even just 5 minutes goes a long way.



4. Buy a meal for someone: Many people who are rough sleeping often don’t get enough food each day. So, if you see someone on the streets, why not stop to offer them something to eat. Find out what they’d love and see if you can pick it up for them from a nearby supermarket or food shop.

5. Donate money: Sometimes we may find that the easiest way to help those in need is to donate funds to a trusted charity. There are many brilliant charities out there so research them and find one to donate to whose values you align with. Some of our longtime, trusted Giving Partners who’d be grateful to have your support are:

  • Simon Community NI

  • Soup KItchen London

  • Depaul Ireland

  • Centenary House

  • Who Is Husain?

  • Cash For Kids

  • Oasis Community Housing

  • And more!

There are so many other ways to help, both big and small! Spend time learning about what is needed and how you can be a part of the solution. And, if you want to find out more about some other ways that help can look like, check out our previous blog post, ‘Homelessness and how to help those affected by it’.

For us at OutsideIn, help looks like our ‘Wear One, Share One’ concept which simply means that for every product you buy, we donate an additional product to someone experiencing homelessness. This model allows YOU to be a part of the difference we are committed to making. And that’s pretty special. If you want to learn more about how our Wear One, Share One works in detail, check out our About Us page for more insight!



Ultimately, homelessness is a complex issue that requires nuanced support. This World Homeless Day, we’d love to encourage you to take the bold step to educate yourself about the issues that exist, to push yourself to help however you can, and to challenge yourself to break the stereotypes you may have believed about homelessness in the first place.

While it is not an issue that will be solved overnight or even over a few years, it is an issue that can be helped. One willing heart at a time.




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