In the warmer weather, there is a perception that the basic needs of people experiencing homelessness are lightened. In reality though, the summer heat, and the potential for heavy storms, can present a different set of challenges. What can we do to help?
Water, water, water! ~ Dehydration is a major risk when you’re living on the street. Simply giving someone a bottle of cold water can literally save their life.
Toiletries ~ Apart from being uncomfortable, dirt and sweat can cause or aggravate health issues. When your only mode of transport is Shanks’s pony, it is vital to avoid foot infections. Severe sunburn is a real danger. Make up small care packs with items such as wet wipes, sunscreen, lip balm, band aid etc. Add things like feminine hygiene pads for the ladies (imagine not having a bathroom, pads or money to buy them).
Clothes ~ Clean, dry socks are really important for comfort and foot health whatever the time of year. Clean underwear and a change of t-shirt not only helps to avoid infection, but makes someone more comfortable and boosts their self-esteem. Socks and underwear should be new; other clothing should be freshly laundered. Don’t give anything that looks too new and colorful as it can make the person stand out, attracting the wrong kind of attention.
Food ~ Always welcome whatever the weather. Things likes small cans of tuna or other items that you can open and eat straight from the container; dried fruits; mints (gum can be difficult for people with dental problems); small pots of fruit items such as jellies or purées; crackers; water.
Local help ~ Supply a list of agencies and businesses in your area that offer assistance to people in need. A laundrette that offers free or reduced cost washes, for example, will not only allow people to clean their clothes but is probably also somewhere they can enjoy the air-conditioning too.
Suspended Coffee supporters ~ include details of Suspended Coffee supporting businesses in your area. If there aren’t any, perhaps you could approach your regular coffee shop? Don’t forget that other businesses can get involved too – fruit and veg shops, hairdressers, clothing or charity shops, stationers – any business can join by going to www.suspendedcoffees.com and clicking the ‘Join the movement’ button.