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Questions about homelessness in Dorset?


1) I am homeless in Dorset. What should I do?

If you find yourself newly homeless, or if you’re worried about homelessness, don’t wait. It's important to get the right advice about homelessness as soon as possible.

Get in touch with the local council:

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council

You can visit in person, call or email them:

  • Visit: Customer Contact Centre, Bournemouth Town Hall, St Stephens Road, Bournemouth, BH2 6EB between 09:00 - 16:30 Monday, Tuesday & Thursday, between 10:00 - 16:30 Wednesday and between 09:00 - 16:00 on Friday.
  • Call: 01202 123 147 at any time.
  • Email: bcphousingadvice@bcpcouncil.gov.uk .

For more information, please visit Bournemouth Council website.

Emergency Accommodation

Please see ‘Is there anywhere I can sleep tonight?'

What can you expect?

If you’re legally homeless your council must help you, but how much they are able to will depend on your eligibility, your level of need and how you became homeless in the first place.

We understand that it is difficult trying to find the information you need at such a difficult time. We hope the information below will help you understand some of the terminology around homelessness:

Legally homeless

You may be considered legally homeless if:

  • You’ve no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere
  • Someone has locked you out of your home, such as your landlord, for example
  • It’s not reasonable for you to stay in your home, for example if you’re at risk of abuse or violence.
  • You are made to live apart from your family or those you normally live with because there’s no suitable accommodation for you
  • You are living in very poor conditions, for example in an overcrowding situation

If you’re legally homeless, your council must provide you with help – this could be giving advice to arranging accommodation. The amount of help they provide will depend on things like:

  • If you became homeless through no fault of your own
  • If you’re eligible for help
  • If you’re in priority need

Priority need

You’re in priority need if:You are pregnant or someone you live with is pregnant

  • You have dependent children (under 16s or under 19s if they’re studying full-time) living with you

  • You’re classed as ‘vulnerable‘, for example as a result of old age or disability

  • You’re homeless after a flood, fire or other disaster

2) Is there anywhere I can sleep tonight?

You can find a list of options for accommodation here. Your local council can also advise you. If a suitable option is available they might be able to make a referral.

Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)

Additional emergency accommodation is provided by the local council when there is severe weather. When the weather is forecasted to be below zero for 3 consecutive days or more, Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) must be provided when the weather is forecast to be below zero degrees for 3 consecutive days.

When the weather is extremely cold, councils make extra provision for all rough sleepers, regardless of their status. During SWEP, councils work alongside other organisations and housing providers to make additional accommodation available, covering the accommodation and staff costs.

Beyond this legal minimum SWEP requirement, it is up to local councils to decide if they want to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers.

Poole SWEP

Please visit our website for further information on emergency accommodation in Poole during this time.

3) The council aren’t able to provide housing for me today, what shall I do?

There are a number of advice services and drop in centres that are able to offer you support, advice and go through the options that are available to you.

Councils are responsible for assessing your housing & support needs. They must provide you with a Personal Housing Plan. This will explain how you can work together to support you to find alternative accommodation and prevent your homelessness.

4) How do I register for social housing?

To be assessed for longer term social housing options, you can register with Dorset Home Choice. Beforehand, please check with the Housing team at the Council to check that this is the right housing option for you.

5) Where can I get food?

A number of organisations can provide you with meals and food parcels.

6) Where can I get personal items such as blankets, clothes, shoes and toiletries?

A number of organisations can help you get a variety of personal items.

7) Where is my nearest doctor?

Here’s a list of GPs in your area.

8) Where can I get housing, benefits, immigration advice?

Your local Citizens Advice branch will be able to offer advice and support around these issues.

Poole - Specialist housing advice and support

Please visit Poole Council website.

9) I am struggling with mental health, alcohol, drugs, gambling, is there an organisation that can help me?

You can get support from Mind, Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous. Or there are local organisations in your area.

10) I have been sexually assaulted, raped, is there someone I can talk to about this?

Rape Crisis supports women and girls, Survivors UK supports men and boys. Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBT+) who have been affected by sexual abuse or rape is provided by GALOP.

11) I am suffering from domestic abuse, is there someone I can talk to about this?

National Domestic Violence Helpline provides support for women and the ManKind Initiative provides support for men. Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBT+) victims of domestic abuse and violence is provided by GALOP.

12) Where can I get unused needles, exchange needles?

An unused/exchange needle service is offered by Addaction Bournemouth.

13) Whilst I am waiting for my benefits to start, how will I afford my medication?

Find out how you could get help to pay for health costs including travel to hospital, etc.

14) How do I help someone sleeping rough?

Bournemouth & Poole Rough Sleepers

Bournemouth and Poole Rough Sleepers Team can help rough sleepers. Let them know by calling​ 01202 315962 or emailing​ b&pstreetoutreach@mungos.org​​. Please provide as much information as possible.

  • Where is the person sleeping rough?
  • What time of day did you see them?
  • The person’s name, gender and age
  • What the person looks like
  • Are there any issue to be aware of? E.g. are they under the influence of alcohol?

Poole Rough Sleepers

Let Poole council know if you come across a rough sleeper by completing their online form or contact housing advice on 01202 633804 if you would like any further information.

Christchurch Rough Sleepers

StreetLink, is a website, mobile app and phone line that enables the public to alert street outreach services and local authorities about people they have seen sleeping rough. This helps them to locate people and offer support. Please provide as much information as possible:

  • Where is the person sleeping rough?
  • What time of day did you see them?
  • The person’s name, gender and age
  • What the person looks like
  • Are there any issue to be aware of? E.g. are they under the influence of alcohol?

15) I don’t know how I can help

There is lots you can do to make a difference, whether it's giving your time, practical items, making a donation or helping to change policies.

Still have questions?

If you have questions, comments or any information to share

Please let us know at info@hopehts.com.