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Getting and giving help this Christmas

What can you do to help if you see someone begging or sleeping rough over Christmas?

Sadly the number of vulnerable people on the streets of town and cities across the country is increasing, and our area is no different.

It’s a problem that occurs all year round, but people are especially at risk over winter when temperatures drop and the weather gets worse.

We wanted to provide some useful information about local organisations that can help so that if you want to share that with someone you are concerned about you can “signpost” them to somewhere they could get help.

We can’t make people take up the help and support on offer and some, for various reasons, don’t want to. But it is there if needed.

Only approach someone if you feel safe and comfortable in doing so. Much of the information is online – obviously someone on the streets may not be able to do that themselves. This is about making you aware so that you can pass the information on – helping you help them.

Many of the organisation mention here rely on volunteers and donations to help support the services they provide – if you can help in any way please get in touch with them.

If you or your organisation provides help and support for vulnerable people in need and want to include details on this page please email

We realise that people are vulnerable throughout the year, and not just in the winter, and we will keep this page running.




Ask yourself first, does the person need emergency help?

If the person in question is under age or is sleeping rough with a child in their care, this is a matter to refer to the police immediately as local authorities have a legal obligation to provide shelter to children.

If the person is in need of urgent medical attention – for example, if they have an open wound or appear to be seriously ill – calling 999 for an ambulance.

Another immediate concern, especially in cold conditions, is where the person is set to spend the next few hours.

Check if there are any night shelters open nearby that could offer a safe, warm sleeping areas (see below).

Will they be outside in sub-zero temperatures?

During extremely cold weather – specifically, when temperatures are predicted to fall to zero degrees or lower for three days – special measures come into action with what’s known as the severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP).

When this comes into force, the local authority and other organisations in the area will work to offer extra temporary accommodation where possible.

In reality we monitor the weather conditions closely and will step in to offer temporary accommodation sooner than that.

How do I get them help?

Assuming none of the above applies, and no immediate shelter is available, another option available is StreetLink – a service that centralises reporting of rough sleepers.

A call or online referral to StreetLink - will, where appropriate, be passed to the council and we will go out and visit the person. If they are still there we would pass on support and advice on where they can get help. 

Due to a high volume of calls when the weather is bad, StreetLink advises the best method to refer rough sleepers is via the website or mobile app.

If someone is homeless and requires temporary accommodation out of normal office hours contact can be made via the council's out of hours emergency number 01254 356535. Someone would normally be found temporary accommodation and asked to contact the council the next working day.

What information do I need to give?

As much information as possible is needed to locate a rough sleeper.

One of the most important things is their night-time sleep location.

This is absolutely key in many cases, as this is when most outreach teams operate. If you have this information, be as precise as possible.

The form also asks for:

  • The name/nickname of the person
  • If they're male or female
  • Their approximate age
  • A description
  • Where and when you saw them

You don't have to give the council your own details but it might be helpful if they need to contact you for more information.


Breathing Space Lancashire

Works to help young people aged 14-25 at risk of homelessness. Basically, the project is early intervention to prevent young people 14-25 from becoming homeless. Its support workers can work alongside and provide mediation and one-to-one support to prevent relationships with family/friends/carers breaking down.

For the Burnley area the contact is the Safespace/HAPI team at either Rossendale (01706 212894) or Nelson (01282 619192).


Burnley Council

All local authorities have a legal responsibility to help homeless people and their families, and to ensure their rights are upheld. We try to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place, but if someone finds themselves in that situation they may wish to apply as homeless by undergoing a homeless assessment.

Click here for advice on homelessness 

Click here for general housing advice 


Support – food:

There are a number of food banks and kitchens across the borough which can help out with a quick meal.

Burnley FC in the Community Kitchen

The community kitchen on the first floor balcony of Market Square in Charter Walk shopping centre will remain open over Christmas but operating at reduced hours.

It is serving a Christmas Day lunch - this is pre-registered so that the kitchen can manage numbers – contact the kitchen manager Anita at

Spacious Place

Developed to help people through a difficult time of genuine need

The Salvation Army

Based in Richard Street, Burnley; email; 01282 415840 / 01282 425588




Should I give my own money?

Many have different views and feelings about giving money to people they meet on the street, and there isn’t any right answer to this issue.

Some feel more comfortable donating to housing or homelessness charities to help tackle the issue.

If you don’t want to give money to someone directly you can help in others ways – by buying them a warm drink or some food or offering a blanket – or even just having a chat with them and providing some company.


Support – substance abuse:


Inspire integrated substance misuse service

Offers a wide range of support for anyone worried about their own or somebody else’s substance or alcohol use. It offers advice and guidance to individuals and family members through rapid, open access assessment leading to support and treatment.

It is based at Burnley House, Westgate, Burnley (01254 495382). Click here for more information.


General advice and support agencies in Burnley borough:

Click here for details of housing advice and support agencies in and around the Burnley area who may be able to assist you.


The following pharmacies in the borough are open Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day .

Christmas Day - Brunshaw Pharmacy, 6 Brownside Road, Burnley BB10 3JU 10am - 1pm

Boxing Day - Asda, Princess Way, Burnley, BB12 0EB 9am - 6pm; Boots, 51 St. James's St, Burnley, BB11 1QL 10.30am - 4.30pm; Cohens Chemist, 305/307 Padiham Road, Burnley, BB12 6PR 9am - 7pm

New Year's Day - Asda, Princess Way, Burnley, BB12 0EB 10am - 5pm; Cohens Chemist 305/307 Padiham Road, Burnley, BB12 6PR 9am - 7pm; Lloyds Pharmacy, Active Way, Burnley, BB11 1BS 9am - 5pm

Weather warnings:

There are a number of websites available that will issue weather warnings if adverse weather conditions are forecast.  Weather warnings are usually coded yellow, amber and red according to their severity.

Keeping abreast of the latest forecasts will help you plan ahead and prepare for storms, flooding, heavy snowfalls or icy conditions.

The BBC ( and Met Office ( are good places to start.

Local radio stations – BBC Radio Lancashire (95.5FM) and 2BR (99.8FM) – will also broadcast forecasts and updates during extreme conditions.

During continuous severe weather Lancashire County Council will issue regular winter bulletins to keep you updated on the weather forecast




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