Concerns for rough sleepers rise ahead of hot weather this summer

Date published: 30 July 2020

Homelessness charity Petrus fears for the lives and safety of rough sleepers ahead of the hot weather to come over the next few weeks.

With this Friday (31 July) predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far, the charity in Rochdale is urging the community to get involved in their ‘Summer on the Streets’ campaign by donating the cost of items like suncream, hats and water.

Petrus needs this support to be able to hand out these essential items to service users at the Hub based on Great George Street and to people living on the streets as part of its Outreach service.


Petrus 'Summer on the Streets’ campaign


The NHS advise that in the UK, the sun is at its strongest from March to October between 11am and 3pm and individuals can get sunburn even on a cloudy day.

It can take as little as being outside for 15 minutes before your skin can start to burn.

Sunburn is not only uncomfortable, but it can increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.

For people living on the streets, with no homes to return to and no shelter from the sun, with many places forced to turn people without face masks away, there is no escape from the heat.

Rough sleepers do not have many opportunities to keep themselves safe or treat sunburn.

The average cost of a 200ml bottle of suncream at stores like Asda, Tesco, Superdrug and Boots are anywhere between £4.50 and £7.

To buy a cheap sun hat or cap from clothing shops like ASOS, H&M, George at Asda and Next, you’re looking at spending around £6 to £9.

If purchasing a 12 pack of 500ml water at a supermarket, prices can start at £1.50.

This means that a minimum cost of protecting yourself from the sun with a hat, suncream and a drink of water is about £12.

For rough sleepers then, these essential items are not easy to access.

The homelessness charity Petrus is hoping to bridge that gap by handing these out, but really need support from the community to tackle this.

Donating between £10 to £20 could help protect one rough sleeper this summer.

Sonia Denham, head of Petrus, said: “Sadly there is not as much support for people experiencing homelessness in the warmer months as there is during winter. But hot weather is just as dangerous as the cold.

“Over the years, we’ve seen people turn up to our door in agony with blistered faces and arms, at risk of infection where they can’t keep burns clean or treated, and suffering sickness from heat exhaustion.

“It can be very dangerous and life threatening if a person can’t find a place to cool down or get a drink of water.

“People living on the streets will likely not have the same privileges as many of us do to protect ourselves from getting sunburn or heatstroke, such as having a place for shelter, somewhere to take a cool shower or being able to stay hydrated.

“We’re hoping to support individuals to stay safe in the sun by handing out suncream, hats and bottled water at our Hub and to those we meet as part of our outreach service.

“We can also offer a free place to shower at our Hub via appointment. We would really appreciate your support with donations so we can help people stay protected this summer.”

To donate online, please visit Petrus’ Virgin Money Giving page at:

Or send a cheque payable to ‘Petrus Community’ to Petrus, 73 Great George St, Rochdale, OL16 1QG.

Alternatively, if you or any businesses can donate essential items (suncream, hats, sunglasses, packaged water), please get in touch with Petrus’ team on 01706 526289 (Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm) to arrange drop off at their Hub (73 Great George Street, Rochdale, OL16 1QG).

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