Where can I work with the homeless?
Once you’ve discovered the variety of different roles you can carry out to support the homeless and where to search, it’s a case of choosing one that suits your skills and interests.
If you’d like a career devoted to tackling homelessness, charities working in this field across the UK need employees to work in roles from outreach to PR. There are also jobs available with local councils or housing associations.
Jobs with homelessness charities
Think about whether you might be better suited to a ‘front-line’ role, working directly with homeless people, or if you would prefer a head-office role, where you will be contributing to a wider effort to help the homeless community.
Here are some of the main job roles you could consider.
As an outreach worker or support worker, your job will involve working closely with individuals to help them find a route out of homelessness. You could be giving one-to-one support to homeless people in emergency shelters or you could be out on the streets providing rough sleepers with provisions and advice. You’ll also be working alongside other organisations and professionals to provide help with accommodation, finances, skills and employment, physical and mental health, drugs and alcohol, and legal services.
This role is about developing and promoting fundraising activities to support your charity’s strategy and raise as much money as possible. There are several different types of fundraising, including:
- corporate fundraising – raising money from businesses
- trust and statutory fundraising – bidding for trust and grant money
- community and events fundraising – usually involving members of the public.
Policy, research and campaigns
Large charities operate in these areas to further their causes and influence the debate on homelessness. Your role could involve providing research, insights and analysis on key topics; preparing responses to government consultations; lobbying the government, MPs, MSPs and other relevant parties; and creating written content to support campaign messaging.
You could find a job that spans these areas or focuses on one. Your role could include developing marketing campaigns to build relationships with supporters; producing leaflets and reports; writing content for the charity’s website and social media channels; writing thank you letters to donors; and handling press enquiries.
Other job roles
Homeless charities also need to hire people to keep things running day-to-day, including administrators, HR officers, finance professionals and volunteer coordinators. Browse the job vacancies on charities’ websites to get a feel for the full range of roles available.
If you have a degree in law, social work or psychology, your goal may be to work in the homelessness sector as a housing litigation solicitor, social worker or clinical psychologist. Some charities, such as Centrepoint, also have their own in-house health teams. You may need to qualify in your field and gain experience elsewhere before you can get some of these roles.
Jobs with local councils and housing associations
You could also work for your local council, Citizens Advice, a housing association or the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. You may find yourself assessing claims for housing; interviewing homeless people to discuss their housing situations; communicating with accommodation providers and homelessness charities; inspecting council and other temporary accommodation; carrying out follow-up visits with people you’ve rehoused; and developing the council’s strategies to tackle homelessness in your area.
The most common job titles are housing officer and homelessness prevention officer, but you may also come across advertised roles such as project officer, prevention and assessment officer, housing options officer or youth homelessness development officer.
Where in the UK can I work with the homeless?
You’re more likely to find work in areas with the highest levels of homelessness. These are typically larger towns and cities.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a lot of the jobs are in London, especially if you want an office-based role as most of the nationwide charities have their main offices in the capital.
However, there are also jobs in towns and cities such as Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Sheffield.
If you’d like to work for a local council, you can look at this A-Z list of councils.
If you’d rather work for a charity, there are several UK-wide homeless charities including:
- St Mungo’s
- The Big Issue Foundation.
There are also charities that tackle homelessness alongside other causes, such as YMCA and Only A Pavement Away.
Alternatively, you could search for smaller homeless charities that work in your city or county. Entry-level jobs with these charities may come up less frequently. Here are some examples by location:
- Aberdeen – Aberdeen Cyrenians and The Foyer
- Bath – Julian House
- Birmingham – St Basils and Let’s Feed Brum
- Brighton – The Clock Tower Sanctuary and Off The Fence
- Bristol – Julian Trust, Help Bristol’s Homeless and Caring in Bristol
- Bournemouth – Hope for Food
- Cambridge – Jimmy’s Cambridge, Cambridge Cyrenians and Wintercomfort
- Cardiff – The Wallich and Huggard
- Coventry – Coventry Cyrenians
- Derby – Padley Group
- Edinburgh – Four Square and Fresh Start
- Exeter – St Petrock’s
- Glasgow – Simon Community Scotland
- Hull – Doorstep of Hull
- Leeds – Simon on the Streets
- Leicester – The Bridge and Action Homeless
- Lincoln – The Nomad Trust
- Liverpool – The Whitechapel Centre
- London – SPEAR, SHP (Single Homeless Project) and Look Ahead
- Manchester – Booth Centre, Lifeshare and Barnabus
- Newcastle – The People’s Kitchen
- Norwich – St Martins
- Nottingham – Emmanuel House
- Oxford – Homeless Oxfordshire
- Plymouth – PATH and Shekinah
- Reading – Launchpad
- Sheffield – Roundabout and Cathedral Archer Project.