How do you help homeless people in the hot weather?

Clients and a volunteer of the Chapman Centre in Ipswich, which is handing out free water and sungla

Clients and a volunteer of the Chapman Centre in Ipswich, which is handing out free water and sunglasses to homeless people to help them cope in the heatwave. Picture: CHAPMAN CENTRE - Credit: Archant

Homeless people are being given emergency shelter and supplies of water, suncream, hats and clean socks amid reports they are struggling to cope in the heatwave.

Charities in Ipswich have spoken of how rough sleepers are becoming ill from dehydration in the searing temperatures, as well as sunburn and difficulties maintaining personal hygiene.

As a result the Chapman Centre, run by the Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG), has decided to hand out emergency supplies of suncream, sunglasses, bottles of water and hats to help people cope.

It is also giving out clean socks to prevent rough sleepers from developing Athlete’s foot as a result of poor hygiene and offering people respite from the sun at its base in Black Horse Lane, Ipswich.

During the hottest part of the day between 10am and 2pm, people are able to visit the centre for a shower and time out of the glaring heat, and there is also a free laundry service once a week to ensure people have clean clothes.

Evelyn Crossland, manager of the Chapman Centre, said: “For us, rough sleeping is not just a winter problem.

“The difficulty for homeless people is finding the shade and not becoming dehydrated. Addictions can be exacerbated by becoming dehydrated.”

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She said most of the Chapman Centre’s clients are self-aware and take care of themselves - but that she had come across examples of people who had fallen asleep, only for the sun to move and leave them badly burned.

Julia Hancock - business manager for the Selig (Suffolk) Trust, the charity behind Ipswich Winter Night Shelter and Ipswich Hope into Action - said: “I think staying hydrated and staying out of the sun is really hard.

“It’s difficult to find somewhere that’s cool.

“We all feel the heat but we can all have a shower and get in some clean clothes. For homeless people, I think it’s really uncomfortable.

“In the winter we worry about people dying in the cold - that’s why there’s this focus on winter prevention.

“It’s unlikely people will die in this weather but it’s horrible and it’s taking its toll in other ways.

“If you throw into that self-medicating with cheap booze, it’s a recipe for disaster.”