What to do if you see someone sleeping rough in the cold weather

An estimated 3,000 people across the country sleep rough each night. And as the UK braces itself for blizzards and lows of -15°C this weekend, it's likely that some of them will freeze to death in the street.

This message, whch is being widely shared on social media, tells people what they can do to help:

But the details in this post are out-of-date, as a St Mungo's employee explained in a follow-up email:

Via the Streetlink website, you can can enter an accurate site for a genuine rough sleeper, and an outreach team in the relevant area will make their way there as quickly as possible to act on the report. You can also call their 24-hour hotline on 0300 5000914, and there's even a Streetlink app available:

Make sure that you're sharing the correct information, as distributed this winter by St Mungo's. Importantly, though the original post refers only to London, Streetlink is a nationwide service.

The homelessness crisis is particularly acute in the capital, where around 750 people sleep rough on any given night, but homeless people across the UK can be referred through the system.

Homelessness has doubled since the implementation of austerity by David Cameron's Conservatives in 2010, with both direct cuts to homelessness services and wider cuts to welfare and benefits driving people onto the streets. The average life expectancy for a homeless person in Britain is just 47-years-old.

While it might not get as cold in the capital as in exposed, rural areas in the north of the country, London temperatures are still expected to drop to freezing, and it's likely that there will also be snowfall.

Around 20,000 people a year die in the UK as a result of cold winter weather, their health problems exacerbated by fuel poverty and a lack of affordable housing.

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