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Advice: rough sleeping

April 07 2015
Sometimes, the best way to get by is to learn from the experience of others...

Sometimes, the best way to get by is to learn from the experience of others. Christopher Ubsdell, who slept rough on-and-off for many years before finally getting his tenancy, shares the Top 10 tips and tricks.

Rough sleeping shouldn’t ever have to happen. But the stats show that in London it has risen by 79 per cent in the last five years, with almost 800 people on the streets of the capital on any one night. The rise in benefit cuts and a shortage of housing means that many single homeless people are being turned away. If you have to, here’s how to get through it.

1. Never sleep on the ground. Use cardboard or something similar to insulate your sleeping bag from the concrete and soften your pitch.

2. Shower regularly to help ensure you avoid germs and disease. Not cleaning the body will increase the rate of infection. Wash your feet and change your socks daily. Socks are cheap from certain big stores. Remember: your feet are important. If you lose mobility, you're in trouble.

3. Eat well, eat small and eat often. Avoid fatty foods and try to eat as much fruit and veg as possible. Overeating will expand the stomach and make the hunger pangs worse when they come. Try to eat often, but keep the portions small.

4. Never be tempted to share needles or other drug accessories. Keep your own kit. There are places out there where you can exchange needles. Details of drug and alcohol services can be found in The Pavement. Additionally, keep in mind that alcohol suppresses the immune system.

5. Never zip your sleeping bag all the way up. Just use it to cover yourself. If you are attacked, you may need to make a quick exit.

6. Never keep food unwrapped in your pitch overnight. It will attract the city’s rats, which are carriers of hideous diseases.

7. If you are going to beg, remember it is illegal and you could well be arrested. Try to avoid begging in one spot for too long – be a moving target! Also, don't just ask for cash but talk to people and tell them your story: you may make a friend or get some good advice.

8. Find all the soup runs you need in The Pavement and places where you can shower. Pay attention to the faces you see in day centres as a good source of info is other homeless people. But don’t be led astray! Be wise to the intentions of others.

9. Public buildings and transportation hubs are a good place to keep warm in winter (museums, the Tube etc). Keep warm at night especially. Know where your nearest 24-hour café is.

10. Seek help and keep trying to improve your situation. Keep morale high and don't get depressed, as your mental health is just as important. Remember: your time will come.

Bonus tip: tights under jeans. Enough said...

Have you got tips to share? Get in touch with karin@thepavement.org.uk.

No Second Night Out: www.nosecondnightout.org.uk/help-a-rough-sleeper/

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