Helping Homeless People in Scotland During Severe Weather
People who are homeless or street begging face a greater risk of hypothermia in cold weather. The main reasons are:
- People who are homeless or begging are not often active. Sometimes people will sit at the same begging pitch all day in freezing and wet conditions.
- Many of the people we support have poor health as a result of the survival lifestyle they live in; poor nutrition, diet, smoking, inactivity, little access to healthcare, stress, trauma, substance misuse all contribute to a lower level of resilience.
- We often support people to change into dry clothes as the items they are standing in are sodden from being exposed to the elements. Snow turning to slush means shoes, socks and trousers are very quickly soaked and cold.
- Despite the images of St. Bernards carrying barrels of Brandy, alcohol doesn’t warm you up, the opposite. Similarly drug use can reduce the bodies ability to warm itself or result in the person not recognising when their body is in trouble.
- People can be outside in all weathers but whereas most of us might dress for the conditions, people who are homeless or in poverty will often have the clothes they stand in, and that’s about all. Proper waterproofs, layers, boots, thermals etc are not easily to hand.
For any and all of us, hypothermia can hit hardest when we’re inactive, in poor health, under the influence, poorly dressed and wet. Whilst these are risks most of us can reasonably prepare for, if you’re homeless that’s not always the case.
You can find out what we’re doing over the winter on twitter at #staywarmstaysafe
Download the StayWarmStaySafe Poster
We’d like to acknowledge the support and donations from all the staff at Macs Adventure which allowed us to design and deliver our hypothermia awareness campaign and for their support by choosing us as their charity of the year. www.macsadventure.com