What if thousands of volunteers helped hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets by providing practical supplies, a friendly face, and wellness tips? This is what we can together do through Street Care.
Here you’ll find practical advice about how to make and take care items to people who are homeless. You do not have to be an expert! During the COVID pandemic, practical care is more important than ever.
1- Watch our how-to video series below (videos are only 60 seconds long). You can also print the tips, if you’d like.
2- Check out our Toolkit, with printable resources, and our approach. Review or print the tips below. Scripts are in each Youtube video.
3- Fill out the ‘I want to help!’ form, even if you’re not sure yet when.
4- Go out and be safe. Bring care kits or even just a water jug (and wellness and health tips!).
5- Then, fill out the ‘After you go out’ form. This helps Street Care better serve you and those on the street.
Your smile is an important way to connect! During the COVID pandemic, you may want to pull down your mask when you are at least 6 feet away from people. As always, being careful is highest priority.
We do not recommend giving money. This is always your personal choice, but we recommend taking very little money with you as you do Street Care.
Introduction to Street Outreach
How to Prepare
Learn how to make preparations to perform outreach, including items to put in your “Care Bags”
- Individual bags are easier to carry around
- Stick with basic items like soap, socks, and snacks
- Carry Street Care wellness information to pass out
You Can Do It!
Don’t sweat it if this feels overwhelming at first…And we find that the experience itself often serves as its own inspiration.
- Remember that your help may literally save lives
- The act of going out and doing this may give you inspiration
Going in Groups
Go in groups, cover more ground, and learn along the way
- Groups can share responsibilities and cover more ground
- Split into pairs so not to overwhelm anyone
- Working with others helps build confidence and knowledge
- Practice together, share the experience, learn from one another
How to break the ice and where to go from there
- Respect homeless people and their personal space
- Pay attention to social cues
- Introduce yourself and state your purpose
- Listen to what each individual has to say
Respect People’s Space
Respecting personal space is important for both your safety and theirs
- Respect boundaries — keep a 6 foot distance
- When possible, maintain the same eye level
- Don’t worry, but remain aware and calm
- Keep everyone’s safety in mind
Street Outreach and the Pandemic: CDC Guidelines
If the individuals you are interacting with during outreach are amenable, please offer to share with them the following tips to help protect them from COVID-19. Simple preventative measures like hand washing might be nearly impossible for homeless people at this time, so your help is crucial. These tips are also helpful for you to remember, to keep yourself safe.
- Clean hands
- Social distancing
- Clean surfaces
Dressing comfortably (and not over-dressed) makes all the difference
Dressing comfortably and intentionally makes all the difference
- Dress casually and comfortably (esp. shoes)
- Don’t be afraid to get dirty
- Remember to smile
Children and Street Outreach
There are many ways to involve young children
- It is not recommended to bring children under 14.
- Children under 14 can still prepare items or make art to donate.
- Once ready, you can slowly start to include them when volunteering.
Safety in Numbers
Bring a friend to back you up
- Before volunteering, ensure your safety by going with another person
- Volunteer with a friend, family member, or acquaintance
- Don’t have more than 2 volunteers approach a single homeless individual
Tell People Where You Are Going
Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back
- Let someone know where you’re going and how long you will be gone.
- Telling them increases your safety and can attract them to volunteer.
- Inform your contact when you’re back at home.
Carry an ID, a Charged Phone, Water, and Food
Be prepared and bring these essentials
- We strongly suggest you carry an ID, plus “Street Care” info and emergency contact info.
- Have the “Street Care” app downloaded — and your phone charged!
- If a police officer questions you, show them your ID and Street Care information.
Avoid Carrying a lot of Money
Don’t bring too many valuables and keep them in your front pockets
- Carry a little money, such as $10.
- Always carry belongings in your front pockets.
- Keep your purse or bag in front of you.
Asking for Directions
There are a few options to safely ask for directions
- If you lose your way, it’s okay to ask an approachable-looking person for directions.
- You can use the opportunity to inform another person about street outreach.
- If in doubt, look for a nearby store to ask for directions.
Be Aware of your Surroundings
Stay safe by staying alert
- Pay attention to your surroundings anytime you’re outside.
- Check in with your partners to make sure you all feel comfortable and are in the safest place possible.
- It’s great to focus phone use on using our app.
Trust Your Instincts
Be confident and trust your gut feeling
- If a situation gives you a bad feeling, trust your instincts and walk away
- It’s okay to take a break and regroup or call it a day if you feel unsettled
Homelessness & Mental Illness
Homelessness and Mental Illness: Introduction
An introduction to engaging people showing signs of mental illness
- Those with mental illness or mental disabilities don’t always show signs
- Don’t give up, even though sometimes it can be difficult
- Keep safety a priority, for yourself and those you’re speaking with
Don’t Make Assumptions
How to keep an open mind and work against biases
- Consider the individual and their situation, don’t just assume
- Signs and symptoms can manifest differently and won’t always look the same
- Be mindful and respectful at all times
Possible Signs of Mental Illness
These indicators can guide the direction of your interaction.
Possible signs include:
- Difficulty communicating
- Talking to themselves in some form
- Withdrawn or shut down It is still possible to safely continue interacting with the person
How to Approach Someone Displaying Signs of Mental Illness
Introduce yourself, smile, and keep it simple
- Smile, introduce yourself, but keep it simple
- Show the item you’re sharing as you mention them, to form a visual connection
- Respect boundaries and keep a safe distance
Compliment and Connect With Someone Displaying Signs of Mental Illness
Making connections can be easy if you engage with kindness
- Be kind and make sure the person is at ease with the conversation
- Using compliments may help if the situation allows
- Give the person time to respond and listen what they have to say
What to do if Communication is Difficult
Stay positive but don’t force an interaction
- Not everyone will want a care bag and that is okay
- If appropriate, you may leave a care bag a few feet away, but don’t force it on them
- Stay positive, take a break if you have to
- Remember: you are doing what you can and that is great
Importance of Helping Veterans
We strive to help homeless veterans
- Homeless veterans are one of the groups we strive most to help
- Many veterans develop PTSD, fear or anxiety
- They can use our help to transition effectively post-service
What to Keep in Mind
Listen attentively with kindness, respect and empathy
- Keep in mind unique circumstances veterans go through (PTSD, losing loved ones, etc.)
- Approach with kindness, respect and empathy
- Be thoughtful and listen attentively
Health & Wellness Tips
De-stress & Energize: Wellness Tips
Simple ways to reduce stress and energize the body
- Flex and release hands to de-stress and energize
- Shake out tension through hands and upper body
- Breathe slowly to calm things
Pandemic Safety: Health Tips
Use and share these tips to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19
- Clean hands
- Maintain 6 feet of distance
- Clean surfaces
- Watch for symptoms
Fast/Free Ways To Help
Help On Your Daily Commute
Help For Cheap Or Free