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Homeless centres and services, where to go for help

There are a number of centres and organisations that help people sleeping on the streets. They have specialist knowledge of the problems you may have and the services available. Some organisations have staff and help centres to help people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems.

Day centres

Day centres are places that people sleeping on the streets can go to during the day. People who have left the streets can also use them for activities and companionship even if they are living in their own homes.

The services provided by each day centre vary, as do their opening times. Most do not open at weekends or in the evening. Generally, day centres provide:

  • cheap or free food
  • laundry room
  • washing facilities
  • activities
  • advice on finding accommodation and benefits
  • access to medical treatment.

Many day centres do not allow drink or drugs on the premises.

Soup runs

In some areas, agencies distribute free food and drinks to people sleeping on the streets. They usually visit certain areas at specific times of the evening and/or early morning.

Day centres may also provide free or cheap meals to street homeless people.

Outreach teams

Outreach teams work on the street. Some areas have outreach teams attached to day centres. They advise people how to find accommodation and may help them to get it. They can also help with claiming benefits. Unfortunately, not all areas have outreach teams.

Hostels and nightshelters

Hostels provide housing for people sleeping on the streets. The accommodation can be:

  • temporary (on a daily basis or for one to six months)
  • permanent
  • supported (for people who are ready to move on to their own home)
  • high care (for people with medical needs).

Some hostels will accept people who turn up at the door. Other hostels need a referral from an agency, such as a day centre or outreach team. Vacancies fill quickly and once the hostel is full, people are turned away.

You will have to pay to stay, but the staff should help you apply for benefits.

Nightshelters are usually free, but can only be used for short stays of a few days.

The section on emergency accommodation has more information about hostels and nightshelters.

Resettlement teams

Some hostels may have a resettlement worker or team. They can help to find longer-term housing. They may also help people to find work or a training scheme.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're in England

Are you homeless or at risk of becoming homeless?

I need help

The important points

  • No one should be forced to sleep rough, contact your council for help.
  • If the council won't help then call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us