What is the cause of becoming homeless?

A question one often asks is “What is the cause of homelessness? Why do people become homeless?” Well there isn’t a simple straight forward answer to any of these questions.

Homelessness is a problem that has recently come to light as a real social issue in the United Kingdom. Seeing a homeless person in major towns and cities in the UK has now become the ‘norm’ but it is still incredibly shocking that in the 21st Century, in a modern world country, we still have people living on our streets. Towards the end of last year, comedian, Russell Howard brought the issue to light in his show The Russell Howard Hour

Towards the end of every year in the autumn period, since 2010, every local authority in England is made to do a count by the Government Department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The count is an annual event and allows local authorities to see changes in the population of homeless people living on our streets.

To be counted as homeless you have to meet a certain criteria when the count takes place. The government set a direct definiton of what is classed as being a rough sleeper. They define a rough sleeper as:

“People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or “bashes” which are makeshift shelters, often comprised of cardboard boxes).” (Source: Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government)

When local authorities are completing their counts they have to adhere to the goverment’s definition of rough sleeping, meaning that there are still some people that won’t meet the requirements and as such are left out of the count. This is because some people decide to sleep in very remote and discrete places (such as bushes and hedgerows) for their own peace of mind. It is important to remember that the figures submitted by undertaking an official count are only inclusive of rough sleepers and not the homeless community as a whole. Those living in temporary accomadation in B&Bs, hostels, sofa surfing and squatting aren’t counted.

Some of the statistics that can be pulled out of the 2016 count are that there were 4,134 people recorded to be rough sleeping in England with 509 (12%) of those people being female and a staggering 288 (7%) of those people being under the age of 25. The graphics below show some of the findings from the data.

(Source: Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2010, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government; Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government).


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Today, 25th January 2018, the data for the 2017 count has been released by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Some of the statistics that can be pulled out of the 2017 count are that there were 4,751 people recorded to be rough sleeping in England, an increase of 617 (13%), with 653 (14%) of those people being female and 370 (8%) of those people being under the age of 25, including 3 people counted as under the age of 18.

Portsmouth saw an increase in it’s rough sleeper population from 37 in 2016 to 42 in 2017, an increase of 13.5% with an increase from 4 females in 2016 to 6 females in 2017, an increase of 33.3%. The number of rough sleepers under the age of 25 also rose from 0 in 2016 to 2 in 2017. No rough sleeper counted in Portsmouth was believed to be under the age of 18.

The graphics below show some of the findings from the data.

(Source: Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2010, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government; Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government; Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2017, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government)


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So, what is the cause of homelessness? Why do people become homeless? There is no one single reason as to why somebody becomes homeless. It is normally a multitude of factors that play a role. Findings from unofficial research carried out by Helping Hands Portsmouth found that common reasons were family breakdown at a young age, and sometimes a step-parent being on the scene and not getting on with the person at a young age. PTSD and mental health issues were among some of the other reasons as well as addiction, prison and disability.

The BBC produced an online article about the stories of some homeless people that live in coastal towns and cities, just like Portsmouth. The link can be found here. BBC South Today also interviewed some of the regions homeless to give them a chance to tell their stories. The link can be found here.

One of our core values here at Helping Hands Portsmouth is that we treat every person we meet on the streets with respect, compassion and dignity. We understand that everyone’s story as to why they are living on the street is different.

We ask that you don’t tar everyone with the same brush. The people living  on our streets are human beings, just like you and I. Treat them with respect. Offering them a sandwich at lunchtime is so simple, yet you maybe the first person they’ve spoken to since lunchtime the day before.

All information used in this article has been sourced and details of sources have been given at the appropriate times. Data for the Rough Sleep Count in Portsmouth was obtained on 28th December 2017 by a Freedom of Information Act (2000) request to Portsmouth City Council. Helping Hands Portsmouth would like to thank Portsmouth City Council for their cooperation with the request.

2017 – What a blast!

Well, what can we say. 2017 has been a blast for Helping Hands Portsmouth. Thank you for all your support throughout the year that made it possible. We invite you to watch our short video about our 2017. I’m sure you will agree it has been amazing!

Finally, we hope you have had a good Christmas and wish you all the very best for a successful and healthy 2018!


Helping Hands Portsmouth Launches it’s Advent Box Appeal

Living on the streets of the UK, Portsmouth included, can be tough at times. Not knowing when your next drink or meal will be; not knowing whether you will be safe in the place you sleep. These are just a few worries that are faced every day when living on the streets.

Christmas is often a time of celebrating and enjoying a good atmosphere with your family and friends. Reliving the past year and exchanging gifts. However, our friends living on the streets don’t have this. It can be a tough time with many feeling isolated throughout the festive period.

This exact reason is why Helping Hands Portsmouth have arranged to go out on Christmas Eve and deliver donations from our Selection Box Appeal, that we launched earlier in the month, as well as donations that we receive through our Advent Box Appeal.

In the lead up to Christmas, many of us will be opening doors on a chocolate calendar and will be purchasing items for Christmas. We are asking for your support in the form of a box of presents that can be distributed to the homeless of Portsmouth. We have thought of some ideas to get you going but please include anything you think a homeless person would like.

Our poster is below and you can download a list of suggested items below too.

Once again, thank you for your continued and on-going support. Without your support, the work Helping Hands Portsmouth does, would not be possible. So, thank you!


Helping Hands Portsmouth Advent Appeal Item List

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An Ex-Marine Moves into a Flat of His Own

One of our loveliest homeless friends is about to move into his own proper flat.


We have enjoyed the humour and spirit of Dave, a former Marine, from street to hostel to – at long last – a home of his own.

True to form, Dave wanted to celebrate by giving back to his street comrades so bought them a big joint of beef. This week’s Sunday outreach? You guessed it! Roast beef and yorkshire puddings, veg, cauliflower cheese and gravy.

Please join us in wishing this wise, resilient, generous gentleman every success in his new home.

Helping Hands Portsmouth Hosts It’s February Fete 2018

Saturday 10th February saw Helping Hands Portsmouth hold it’s February Fete at Landport Community Centre in Portsmouth.


Helping Hands Portsmouth’s February Fete fundraising event took place on Saturday 10th February 2018. The day saw many stalls including a children’s toy stall along with a cake stand and a healthcare stall as well as a face-painter. received_10215594045109196

There were also tombolas and tuckshop stalls selling sweets, popcorn and canned drinks with all profits going to Helping Hands Portsmouth to enable them to continue thier work with the homeless and vulnerable within the city.

We also had Tesco’s Community Champion, Marnie, come along from the Craswell Street Store providing free fruit for all visitors to the day. Thank you to Marnie and Tesco for donating the fruit.



received_10215594044789188The day also saw entertainment from the amazing Becki Short, an entertainer specialising in singing songs from the 1940’s. Becki is also a singing tutor and brought along a couple of her students to perform on the day. They sang a wide range of numbers including the classic Dolly Parton’s 9 ’til 5 and songs from Broadway hit musical and film, Les Miserables, a favourite of our founder, Bev, as well as songs from Phantom of the Opera.


The day also had Spider-Man and Captain America in attendance!



received_10215594044669185The day raised an incredible amount of money and the whole team at Helping Hands Portsmouth would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who attended and also a huge thank you to those who attended holding stalls and volunteered for Helping Hands Portsmouth. Also, a massive thank you to the staff at Landport Community Centre for allowing us to hold the event there. Without your support, we couldn’t do the work we do, so again, THANK YOU!


Below are just a few photos of the day. Take a look!



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Keep an eye on our website calendar (found here) which details all our fundraising events that we have upcoming and we hope to see you all again at our next event!


Helping Hands Portsmouth Are Having Their March Pub Quiz at Three Bar, Southsea

On the 14th March 2018, The Three Bar in Southsea has kindly offered to hold a fundraiser pub quiz with proceeds going to Helping Hands Portsmouth.

The quiz starts at 19:30 and entry is £4 per person which includes a curry. Please bring along your firends and family to what sets to be an entertaining evening.


The Three Bar is located at 103 Palmerston Road, Southsea, PO5 3PT


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Helping Hands Portsmouth Launches it’s New Brand Identity

In the last few weeks, the admin team have been working behind the scenes on the next ‘brand’ phase of Helping Hands Portsmouth. We now have our new logo to show you too! Personally, we feel it sums up our work really well and we hope you will agree. The heart in the middle is particularly meaningful as it was drawn by one of our homeless friends.

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Helping Hands Portsmouth has grown incredibly since it first began just under 18 months ago and we thought that due to the work we do changing, it was important that our ‘brand’ changed with us.


As mentioned above; the heart in the middle of the new logo was drawn for Helping Hands Portsmouth by one of the homeless guys that they see week in and week out. We’re sure you will agree that having a homeless person draw the heart for us gives the logo more meaning.



Some of you maybe aware that on the 1st February it was #TimeToTalk day. An intitative set up by the organisation Time to Change.

The day that has been established to encourage people to talk about mental health and recognise it’s okay to not be okay. Breaking down stigma around mental health.

Many people whose home is on our streets suffer from a wide variety of mental health issues. Yet they can sometimes not speak to anyone for several days at a time. Living in an isolated world, which rough sleeping can be, is very challenging.

So, what can you do to help?

Maybe when you’re in town or down the High Street, or on your lunch break today, or over the weekend, maybe stop by a homeless friend and see how they’re doing. Just asking a simple question like “how you doing pal?” could really make someone’s day.

Helping Hands Portsmouth pride themselves on the values of treating each individual, we reach out to and support, with compassion, dignity and respect.

It’s Pub Quiz Time!

On the 6th Febraury 2018, The George pub in Alton, Hampshire has kindly offered to hold a fundraiser pub quiz with all proceeds going to Helping Hands Portsmouth.

The quiz starts at 19:30 and entry is £2 per person. If you’re in the area please bring along your firends and family to what sets to be an entertaining evening.


The George is located on Butts Road, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 1LH


February 2018_v3

Helping Hands Portsmouth is hosting it’s February Fete

On Saturday 10th February 2018, Helping Hands Portsmouth will be holding a fete at Landport Community Centre. Details of the fete are on the poster below. Please feel free to share this page with your family and friends and we hope to see you for what will be a good, fun afternoon.


If you would like to have a stall at our fete, please do get in touch by email or by the contact us page. Fee for having a stall is £10 and donation of a raffle prize.


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