A BLAST of intense cold weather dubbed the “Beast from the East” has reached Scotland, with temperatures expected to dip below freezing throughout the week.

The extreme temperatures mean the risks faced by rough sleepers are even greater, and campaigners warn it could be deadly for some forced to spend the night outside.

As a result, special measures are in place enabling the local authority to offer immediate accommodation to those sleeping on the street. But authorities rely heavily on members of the public reporting people they see on the streets in order that they can find them.

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It’s the simplest of things, but approaching the person and politely having a chat with them - if you feel comfortable doing so - can actually really pay off.

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Without being too intrusive, find out their details and a bit about them, such as their name and what their situation is.

Beyond this, though, some may want to do more, but are unsure how to go about helping out. Here, we break down the six things to take into consideration to help someone sleeping rough in Glasgow:

1. Take note of key information

Outreach teams in the city will need to know information pertaining to the homeless person’s usual nighttime sleeping location, whether there are any health concerns and, of course, a detailed physical description.

2. Homeless referral service

Sadly, Scotland has no centralised referral service for flagging up rough sleepers, unlike England and Wales which have StreetLink, and where councils also implement the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) where local authorities and other organisations work to offer extra temporary accommodation where possible.

An equivalent that comes close is Shelter Scotland which can offer help and advice by directing users to Glasgow City Council. Click here for help.

The council also pays £1 million to Simon Community Scotland which goes out onto the streets of Glasgow everyday to help the homeless.

The team’s Rough Sleepers and Vulnerable Peoples (RSVP) service can be contacted on on 0800 027 7466 to discuss concerns and staff will go out and meet with the person to offer support. Click here for more information.

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The Invisibles, a small group committed to helping homeless people in Glasgow, have also been urging the public since March to petition the council to implement SWEP after 28-year-old Matthew Bloomer died while sleeping in Trongate. Click here for more details on how to petition the council.

Alternatively, the council can be petitioned directly. Click here for more information.

3. Contact emergency services

Please get in touch with the emergency services by calling 101 if you see someone who looks to be underage or if they have a child in their care.

Alternatively, if the person looks ill or has an injury and requires urgent attention, don’t hesitate to call 999.

4. Find day and night shelter services

Find out the day and night shelters in your area with a simple internet search and refer the person to that.

Glasgow City Mission can provide the public with ‘How you can help cards’ to give to the homeless and connect them to the service’s daytime services.

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The Mission also has cards for the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter which is open until March 31. Head to the online shop here.

5. Freezing weather fears - the council’s legal duty

Glasgow City Council has a legal duty to help people who are homeless or are threatened with homelessness, particularly in freezing weather, and the council says this is highlighted in its winter contingency plan which outlines how the council will help to ensure accommodation can be found for all in the event of adverse weather conditions.

Those who do find themselves homeless can also be directed to the nearest community homeless service.

As of December 11, the council’s out-of-hours emergency homelessness service for five days a week is as follows:

From Monday to Friday, the out-of-hours homelessness service will be delivered from Glasgow City Mission. Between 4.45pm and 11pm, single males and females should attend Glasgow City Mission at 20 Crimea Street, Glasgow, G2 8PW.

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After 11pm, and women and families with children, should phone the freephone number 0800 838 502.

On Saturday and Sunday, the service will be delivered from The Hamish Allan Centre at 180 Centre Street, Glasgow, G5 8EE.

All of this information can be found here.

6. Offer money and/or food in the street - or not?

There is no right or wrong answer to this one. While many outreach services urge the public to connect rough sleepers to their services, some members do actually feel more comfortable giving money, food, clothing, and hot drinks. It’s just whatever feels right for you. Sitting down with a person and having a chat - if you wish to do so - will never do any harm.