“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” Winter weather and homelessness in York.

person sat on outdoor steps in cold weather

What’s your go-to idiom for cold weather? Are you a master of the British understatement with “it’s a bit nippy?” Perhaps you’re a fan of hyperbole, leaning more towards “it’s like the Arctic out there!” Or, maybe you are a comedian and your go-to phrase is something along the lines of “it’s colder than a penguin’s toenails.” Whichever of these descriptions sits most comfortably with you, I think it’s fair to say, all of them are applicable to the current Yorkshire weather conditions: in short, it’s cold!

We’ve dug out our scarf and gloves. We’re defrosting the car most mornings. As we snuggle under a 13.5-tog duvet and dream of holidays in warmer climates, we are secure in the knowledge that the winter will eventually pass and, as C.S. Lewis puts it in ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,’ “we shall have spring again.”

Of course, the above assumes you have a scarf. And gloves. And a car. And a 13.5 tog duvet (and a bed to put it on, for that matter). But for people rough sleeping, the colder weather poses not just an annoying cold snap, but a genuine danger to life. Government statistics show that over 8,000 people experienced rough sleeping at some point in September 2023, which is a 27% increase in twelve months.[1]

Whilst in York the number of regular rough-sleepers is – thankfully – comparatively low, there is a hidden homelessness population in temporary accommodation, sofa-surfing, or accessing crash-pads, for whom cold weather – whilst perhaps not deadly – still presents a genuine concern. Individuals and families on low incomes often cannot afford heating or warm food. So, what can we do to assist those living in such conditions this winter?

If you encounter someone rough sleeping in York, offering to buy them a hot drink and some food is a great first step. Carecent run breakfast drop-in sessions Monday-Saturday and offer advice sessions with housing navigators on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Furthermore, the Peasholme Centre on Fishergate has sessions Monday-Friday mornings from 9:20am and anyone in need of accommodation can drop in for advice and support.[2] Many Restore residents have come to us through referrals from services such as these.

Of course, we would love to be able to offer more accommodation in the coming months to help even more people begin their journey out of homelessness. We are currently looking to expand our provision so that we can support more residents and be part of the solution to ending homelessness in York. If you are a property owner or looking to invest in buy-to-let accommodation, please contact us to start the conversation about how you can become a landlord with Restore. We offer a guaranteed 6-year rent and lease, professional management and maintenance, and you’ll know you’re helping people in York who would otherwise be homeless.

If that’s not you, then you can still support the work of Restore by donating towards our work, or by taking on a sponsored fundraising challenge in aid of Restore. Check out our ‘Get Involved’ page and download our fundraising pack for ideas to get you started.

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[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ending-rough-sleeping-data-framework-september-2023/ending-rough-sleeping-data-framework-september-2023

[2] https://www.york.gov.uk/homelessness/rough-sleeping-york/1