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Helping Rough Sleepers and Beggars

The most visible form of homelessness is people sleeping rough. The reasons people find themselves in this situation are often complicated and not easy to resolve.  Understandably, particularly during the colder months, people want to know what is being done to help people on the streets, and what they can do to help.

What advice can you give when talking to a rough sleeper or a beggar? It’s important to remember not all beggars are rough sleepers and not all rough sleepers are beggars. However we provide a range of services to ensure both of these groups have access to support and to help rebuild their lives.

Medway Council and statutory and voluntary agencies work in partnership to provide support and advice to people, and there is a specific provision in place when weather gets particularly cold.  If weather forecasts show we will have temperatures of zero degrees Celsius or colder for three days, we put in place our SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol). Every local authority has a legal duty to provide this and means we will put people sleeping rough into emergency accommodation during periods of prolonged cold. This provision is accessed through our Housing Options Team at Kingsley House.

There is also an emergency cold weather shelter, run by One Big Family, which opens on any night when it will be zero degrees Celsius or colder, and a Medway Winter Night Shelter, which operates from January to the end of March. 

There are also a number of frontline services that operate all year round providing advice, assistance, food, clothes washing facilities and showers for people who are out on the streets.


Councillor Howard Doe, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services said:

“The council works with charitable organisations all year round to help homeless people find appropriate accommodation. It is very sad to see people sleeping on the streets, especially at this time of year, and we would urge anyone sleeping rough to contact the council or visit Kingsley House in Gillingham, so they can be taken through all of the options available to them.”


If you are concerned or encounter somebody sleeping rough or begging on the streets of Medway, we’ve pulled together a list of some key services that they should be directed to:


- Housing

Housing Options Service weekdays 8.30am to 5.15pm, 4.45 on Friday.

01634 333600. Out of hours service 01634 304400.


- Social Services

Weekdays 9am to 5pm 01634 334466. Out of hours 0845 7626777.


- Food

  • Help for Homeless. Gillingham High St, Soup Kitchen 7pm Friday.  
  • Street Angels. Soup Kitchen in Globe Lane Car Park, Chatham, 6.30pm . Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.


- Alcohol and Drug services

l Turning Point. Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service, 346a High St, Chatham,

0300 123 1560  http://www.turning-point.co.uk/

l Alcoholics Anonymous. several locations and  times.

Visit alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk or call 0800 9177650


- GP services

l Walk in GP service. Community Healthy Living Centre, Balmoral Clinic,

Balmoral Gardens, Gillingham 01634 334900


- Mental Health Crisis Support. 24h helpline 0300 222 0123

or for hearing impaired 07860022819

Medway Maritime Hospital - 01634 830000 - https://www.medway.nhs.uk/


For more details on support services available, go to http://www.medway.gov.uk/housing/atriskfromhomelessness.aspx