Tackling rough sleeping across the network

Person using their smartphone looking at the StreetLink webpage

At TfL, helping rough sleepers to get the support they need is a safeguarding priority. 💙

We work closely with the Greater London Authority and outreach services to understand how best to support those rough sleeping in London and on the transport network.

We spoke to Gareth Thomas, Senior Information Officer at StreetLink about the work they do and how you can report rough sleeping across the TfL network. 👇🏻

Image of Gareth Thomas from StreetLink

StreetLink is a website, mobile app and phone line which gives the public a means to take positive action when they see someone sleeping rough by sending an alert to connect that person to local support services.

It operates throughout England and Wales. Since it launched in 2012, StreetLink has managed over half a million alerts about people sleeping rough and is a vital form of intel for the local street outreach teams.

StreetLink works by taking reports from the public about people sleeping rough. Independent local outreach teams then receive the details and go out to look for the person. Once they have found the person sleeping rough, they make contact and offer support. StreetLink emails the person who submitted the alert outlining the action the outreach team normally takes (this varies locally). The person who made the report can also request to receive general feedback on the outcome of their alert. 

StreetLink and the outreach teams we pass alerts onto do not operate as emergency services. If you think that someone needs urgent medical attention or that the person you are concerned about is under 18, please call 999.

There are lots of places where people can hide away to sleep in around London’s stations. Station staff or outreach teams may not be aware of these places. It’s helpful to let us know where exactly you saw the person sleeping rough in the station. You can also send an alert about someone sleeping on public transport.

You can make alerts via the website or the app. A good alert should be accurate, specific and detailed. We need an exact location, plus descriptive location details, to help the outreach team when they arrive at the location. For example, the person is sleeping under the stairwell at the far end of platform 4.

To increase the chances of the person sleeping rough being found, we also ask for a specific time and descriptive information about the person.

When and how outreach teams operate

Local outreach teams go out late at night or in the early hours of the morning to look for people sleeping rough.

They use StreetLink alerts and information from local sources to plan a route for each shift. The frequency of outreach shifts will vary locally, so not all of them will go out every night. But most will make more than one attempt to find the person if they were not able to locate them the first-time round.

When StreetLink find someone sleeping rough, the outreach team will complete an assessment and then work with them to look at solutions to try and end their rough sleeping. This might include an offer of temporary accommodation or a referral to relevant support services.

However, every situation is different and sometimes this work can take some time. For example, sometimes it takes a while to build trust with a support worker, or if there is a waiting list for accommodation or services. This means that you might not see a change in the person’s situation straight away.

How to find out what has happened to an alert

Once you’ve submitted your alert, you get the chance to opt in to receive feedback. The local outreach team will inform StreetLink about the general outcome of the alert within 14 working days. They will send you an email to notify you of this outcome if you have requested it.

Find out more about our response to rough sleeping

Visit our website to find out more about how we’re working to tackle rough sleeping.

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