How often do you see a homeless person and walk past? At the end of last year, the charity Shelter estimated that 320,000 people in Britain are either homeless or living in “inadequate” housing — that’s one in every 200 people. Over half of these live in London, where the figures jump to one in every 52 people.

Not everyone who is homeless ends up on the streets. Of the 320,000 people Shelter counted, around 4,500 were rough sleepers. Most lived in temporary accommodation or in social housing.

There are many different causes of homelessness. People can lose their home after facing rejection from friends and family, or the breakdown of a relationship. Other factors include money problems through debt or unemployment; health troubles; the end of a private rental tenancy; and a lack of government benefits. Often, it is a combination of many different issues.

The Government says it aims to end rough sleeping by 2027 by providing homes for people who are ready to leave homeless shelters.

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

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Poet Emmanuel reads A Couple of Bags & A Stereo, a poem about becoming homeless. How does it make you feel?


  1. As a class, list more reasons why someone might become homeless. Then list ways that other people can help.
  2. Imagine you are your country’s housing minister, tasked with ending rough sleeping in your country. Write down five things you would do to tackle the problem.
  3. If you haven’t already heard it in assembly, listen to the poem by Emmanuel above. Write your own poem or short story about what it might be like to be homeless. How did you get there? How does it feel? What are your hopes or fears for the future?