Rough sleeping

Help for rough sleepers in Guildford

Guildford has many services to help rough sleepers. These include:

  • homelessness outreach and support service

  • day service

  • night shelter

  • a number of hostel and supported housing projects

  • a range of services providing specialist support  

  • agencies providing general and specialist advice including money and debt advice

  • organisations that support people to engage in voluntary work and access education, training and employment opportunities

  • services that offer opportunities to improve health and wellbeing

What we do

We commission the Homeless Outreach and Support Team (HOST) to provide support and assistance to rough sleepers or people at risk of rough sleeping in the borough.

HOST provides a point of contact for the public and other local agencies to report potential rough sleepers and responds to these reports by locating the rough sleeper and offering help to move away from life on the streets.

The team works in close partnership with the Police, Town Rangers, our Park Rangers and our Car Parks team to ensure that those new to the streets are contacted swiftly.

You can help by telling us about a rough sleeper

We welcome any information that helps us to help those who need it. If you see a person you believe may be rough sleeping you can tell us in two ways:

What happens next...?

Our HOST team usually responds to reports of rough sleepers within 24 hours of receiving the information, occasionally it may take a little longer to find someone. Once contact has been made and the person has agreed to accept support, HOST works with each person to understand their circumstances, identify support needs and gather other relevant information.

HOST works in close partnership with a range of statutory and voluntary agencies to enable people to access services that suit their needs and co-ordinate admission to the nightshelter, which offers short term emergency accommodation. Although Guildford clients are prioritised for a nightshelter place, these beds are open to anyone in need, if a bed is available. Once accommodated in the night shelter, HOST continues to work with people to secure a move into longer term accommodation.

The help offered to rough sleepers varies greatly according to each person's circumstances and support needs.

Challenges in finding longer term accommodation

Private rented accommodation is not normally an option as Guildford is an expensive place to live, rents can be unaffordable for many people.

This means that rough sleepers who come to Guildford find their options to stay here extremely limited. Having established a person's circumstances, HOST will share the opportunities available and where there are no realistic options in Guildford, if it is safe to do so, the offer will be to refer the person back to their home area. Returning to a person's home area maximises their options and gives them more opportunity to get the help they need. This process may involve HOST contacting other local authorities, family or friends, day centres, nightshelters or outreach teams to co-ordinate the person's return.

HOST will always provide advice and help to anyone found rough sleeping in Guildford. While we do not have the resources to offer accommodation to everyone, everyone who rough sleeps receives an offer of help.

Sometimes people refuse offers of help

When this happens, HOST and the other agencies in Guildford who work with rough sleepers, don't give up. We often work together to find creative ways to engage the person, always aiming to help them to move away from life on the streets. However, we cannot force people to accept help or accommodation. Homelessness is a complex issue and there are many reasons why someone may reject assistance and choose to remain on the streets. We can, however, provide reassurance that people are not just left on the streets with no help. The door to support is always left open.

Street begging

It is likely that any person seen begging in Guildford will already have been offered help from the Homeless Outreach and Support Team and will be someone that we are aware of. Find out more on our Street begging page.

Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) for rough sleepers

During winter we work in partnership with local providers of accommodation and other statutory and voluntary organisations to make sure adequate provision is available. SWEP operates when specific weather criteria is triggered and then closes when conditions improve.

SWEP in Guildford is co-ordinated by our HOST team, which gathers information and responds to reports of people thought to be rough sleepers, finds them and offers emergency accommodation and placements.

SWEP accommodation is accessible to anyone, including people not normally eligible for services and people with no recourse to public funds. We can also use this time to work positively with people who would not normally choose to engage with our services.

Even though we make every effort to ensure that no-one rough sleeps during severe weather, people do sometimes choose, for a variety of reasons, not to accept our offer of accommodation and prefer to remain rough sleeping. It is most likely that if you see someone rough sleeping in severe weather they will have been offered help. However, we do ask that if you have any concerns you let us know.