How often do you see a homeless person and walk past? At the end of last year, the charity Shelter estimated that 300,000 people in Britain are either homeless or living in “inadequate” housing — that’s one in every 200 people. Over half of these live London, where the figures jump to one in every 59 people.

Not everyone who is homeless ends up on the streets. Of the 300,000 people Shelter counted, only 4,500 people were rough sleepers. Most lived in temporary accommodation, hostels or social services housing.

There are also many different causes of homelessness. For many, it can be rejection from friends, family or the breakdown of a relationship; money problems such as debt or unemployment; health troubles; the end of private renting tenancy; and a lack of government benefits. Often, it is a combination of many different factors at once.

This Wednesday is World Homeless Day, when people around the world are encouraged to support homeless people in their time of need.

What can you do to help? It is not just about giving money — why not try finding old clothes to donate to a homeless shelter, or organise a donation drive for one of the thousands of food banks across the country?

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In this video by the charity Shelter, a homeless man and his young son record what it is like to live in a homeless shelter.


  1. As a class, brainstorm as many causes of homelessness as you can think of. Do some research into which are the most common.
  2. Write a short story about an imaginary homeless person, including the experiences they go through each day and how they got there.
  3. Organise a fundraising event or donation drive with the rest of your class for World Homeless Day.