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Advice - How many services are there for homeless people in the UK?

There are hundreds of services in the UK that have been set up specifically for homeless people - not just accommodation services but a range of advice and support services.

However, many homeless people also use services for the general public like the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx) or other particular client groups - services for people with alcohol or drug problems, for instance. Some organisations aim most of their services at the public or particular client groups other than homeless people, but may also provide some specialist help for homeless people.

There are also different definitions of “homeless people” and how agencies define their target group. Some services are explicit about serving homeless people or rough sleepers. Others aim their services more generally at anyone wanting advice on housing problems, those “in housing need” or people whose homelessness is more “hidden” (eg those sleeping on friends’ floors because they have nowhere else to stay, or those staying in substandard or temporary accommodation like Bed and Breakfast hotels).

Although the different definitions involved make counting the overall number of services for homeless people rather difficult, as research for Homeless UK continues, we are getting a clearer picture of the numbers of different services. We know, for example, that the geographical distribution of specialist services varies greatly and more services tend to be located in urban areas.

Homeless Link carries out annual surveys of needs and provision that analyse the state of the services for single homeless people and couples in England. These surveys have used Homelesss UK data, Supporting People-funded services data, and telephone interviews with emergency hostels, second stage hostels and day centres.

Homeless UK data also gives a picture of the extent of some types of homelessness services across the whole of the UK:

Specialist homelessness advice

There are over 1,500 advice services specifically for homeless people in the UK. This includes 570 Local Authority Housing Department offices providing Housing Aid or Advice Centres and Homeless Persons Units. In addition there are many non-specific services like CABx that can provide advice on homelessness and housing related issues.

Day centres

There are over 500 day centres for homeless people across the UK.

Emergency hostels

There are over 350 emergency hostels in UK