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What can I expect on my first time?
When you arrive at the meeting point you will be introduced to the team. There will be a team leader and several regular distributors as well as first timers like your self. You will be given a short induction (nothing scary or complicated) and will be asked to sign a briefing sheet confirming that you have read and will abide by the guidance provided.
What should I wear?
Along with lots of walking there maybe some standing around whilst distributing and chatting, so warm clothes in the winter and comfortable walking shoes.
Do I need to bring anything?
Only if you have it, especially flasks of hot water. See out donations page for a list. Otherwise just bring yourself and a big smile.
How do we distribute?
Along with bags and rucksacks we have our trade mark shopping trolleys that have been decorated with fairy lights. These are fully equipped with everything needed for warming up our homeless friends. You maybe given a trolly to push or a bag to carry on the evening.
Where do we distribute?
We have set routs around our established towns. Sometimes we will have new information on a person on the streets that may take us away from this route.
If the group is large enough we will split into 2 groups allowing us to cover a larger area more quickly and efficiently. Each team will be lead by an experienced distributor.
How Many in a distribution group?
We make it a rule that teams must be no less than 4 people for safety reasons and no larger than 8 people to ensure we do not alarm the more anxious and vulnerable people on our rounds.
How many People are on the streets?
Sometimes we may go out and only find a handful of people who need our help; however, this is a much less occurrence now. We have noticed a large increase and we believe it will only get worse. Currently we serve between 15 and 20 people in Hastings alone.
Where will homeless people be?
They can be in doorways, underpasses or just walking around. Many have grown to know us and will come to us, especially if they are in need of something specific.
What do we do when we meet a homeless person?
After one of the experienced distributors has established the person would like some help you may be asked to offer hot drinks, food, toiletries etc. Don't worry if you are not up to chatting with them straight away. Even getting a pot noodle ready is just as important.
If you are up to chatting to them, do so. When you get to know them you will find the majority of our friends on the streets are very friendly and quite often have many tales to tell and are up for a good laugh.
What do we give People?
Although we are limited with what we can do for these people, we do not lack enthusiasm and compassion along with hot drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, tea and cuppa soups. Food can comprise of Pot Noodles, Pasta Mug Shots, Sausage Rolls, Yummy breakfast packs containing fruit, cereal bars, juice and pain-a-chocolates.
We can also supply them with toiletries from roll on deodorants, shower gels, toothpaste, soaps, wet wipes, sanitary products etc. We will always have emergency sleeping bags, for someone new on the streets along with warm clothing, underwear blankets and tarps. We also have a good supply of carrier bags too. We don't forget their four legged friends either. We always have doggy treats, dog food and, when we can get them, collars, coats and leads. We will always ask on the health of the doggies and see if they need anything like flea drops or vaccinations etc. If they do, we help arrange these things for them.
Any little extras?
Yes… As you get to know these people you will learn what they like. It maybe reading, therefore have a couple of books handy. The odd chocolate bar. At Easter we had a donation of Easter eggs which went down very well. Christmas will be a time to give out little gifts too. One young man liked to draw so he was given pencils.
What don't we give them?
We don't give money, sharps, alcohol or drugs. We also advise against giving out personal phone numbers and addresses. If details do need to be exchanged it will be done so with the correct procedure.
What are the homeless like?
People are on the streets for many reasons. Very often it is not through choice. It can happen to anyone at any time.
They may be ex army, out of work, just out of prison. They might have mental health problems, alcohol and drug related issues. There are couples, single people, youngsters under 18, older people, people with dogs and people from other countries.
As a general rule they are nice people who have fallen on hard times.
What is important to remember is we are not there to judge. We are there to help where possible. If they are hungry, we feed them, if they are cold, we warm them, if they need someone to talk to, we listen and if they are in need of a little company and a few kind words, we give them whole heartedly.
On occasions we may come across someone who is verbally aggressive. On such occasions we will take measures to avoid any confrontations. As yet we have not had to deal with any physical aggression. If this were to happen, again measures will be taken to avoid this where possible.
How long are we out?
This can depend on how many are sleeping rough on the streets that night. Allow between 2 and 3 hours. If you can only come for part of the time that is ok.
What is in it for me?
Nothing, except the knowledge that you have made a persons life a little more bearable during a very hard period in their lives. Thank you so much