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What is Homelessness?

Homelessness is more than not having a roof over your head, it’s about not having a secure, safe, or affordable place to stay. You may be considered homeless if:

  • You are staying with family or friends
  • You’re squatting (as you don’t have the legal right to stay)
  • You are staying in a hostel, night shelter or B&B
  • You’re at risk of violence or abuse in your home
  • You live in poor conditions that are affecting your health
  • You live apart from your family as you don’t have a place to live together

Homelessness and the life circumstances that surround it can be very stressful, and this can have a huge impact on mental wellbeing. If you or someone you know is struggling with homelessness, or you think you might be at risk of becoming homeless, you can contact CALM to talk about how you’re feeling. You can also find more support here.

How does homelessness feel?

Lacking a secure place to stay can have a huge affect on our mental wellbeing. Being homeless, experiencing problems in your home, or coping with housing problems can be incredibly tough. Figuring out the processes and talking to the right people can also feel very overwhelming. A study from 2014 showed that 80% of homeless people in the UK have struggled with mental health due to their housing situation. 

The emotional effects of being homeless can make it more difficult to change your circumstances. If you are experiencing homelessness you may feel:




  • Helpless
  • Demoralised
  • Depressed
  • Distrustful
  • Bitter
  • Overwhelmed
  • Tired
  • Anxious 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Like life isn’t worth living

Anyone can become homeless. Being homeless does not define someone. No matter what reason you are facing challenges around your living circumstances, help is available.

Why do people become homeless?

There’s lots of reasons someone may find themselves homeless – and they could happen to any of us. Usually people find themselves in this situation because of social triggers such as a lack of affordable housing, or life events such as flooding, or a fire in your home. Some factors which may make you more vulnerable to becoming homeless include, but are not limited to:

  • Poverty and unemployment
  • Leaving prison, care, or the services with no home to go to
  • Trying to leave a violent or abusive relationship
  • A lack of affordable housing
  • Mental or physical health problems
  • A relationship breakdown

Where can I find help?

  • Talk to CALM from 5pm to midnight everyday. Our professional helpline workers are there to talk and to help you find ways to move forward. Calls and webchats are free, anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential. 
  • Outside of these hours, call the Samaritans on 116 123.
  • Contact your local council to find out what help they can offer. This might be emergency accommodation or something more long-term.
  • Contact your local Citizens Advice

Dealing with homelessness

  • If you are legally homeless your local council has to help you. This may be by giving you advice, or it may be providing accommodation.
  • Contact your local homeless shelter, local housing officer and council who can advise steps to take towards getting you accommodation safely.
  • Remember that you are valued as a person. The situation you’re in isn’t a reflection of who you are. 
  • Think about reconnecting with people that might be able to help you i.e. an old friend or estranged family.
  • Talk with the Salvation Army who can provide access to food banks, showers and give other practical help.

Talk about homelessness

Homelessness can be a difficult topic to discuss. If  you or someone you know is facing homelessness or a situation that may lead to homelessness, here are some ways you can start a conversation:


“I’ve been going through [ ] and am worried about where I’m going to live.”


“I’ve been sofa-surfing for a while now and it’s really taking its toll. I’m not sure what to do to get help.” 


“I’ve heard CALM offer a free helpline service. They might be able to help you decide what support you need – would you like their helpline number so you can reach out to them about your situation?”

Header Illustration by Elliot Kruszynski


5pm-midnight | free | confidential | Anonymous

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Worried about someone? Find information and advice for someone you care about here.