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Night Shelter and Emergency Homeless Hostels

An emergency hostel or nightshelter may be able to provide you with a bed for a few nights if you are homeless and have nowhere to stay. They are usually run by housing associations, charities or the local council.

Most nightshelters provide a free basic place to stay for a few nights and often some food. Nightshelters are a useful option if you don't have money for housing, but are not entitled to claim housing benefit. Many nightshelters are set up temporarily in churches, offices or schools that aren't being used. The accommodation is usually shared.

Hostels are usually less basic and will ask you to pay. In some places you may get your own room but in most you will have to share a bedroom with someone of the same sex. Most hostels don't accept couples, but some do.

Emergency hostels may have shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms. Some hostels provide meals but you usually have to pay for them. You can be asked to leave if you fall behind with your payments. 

Direct access hostels will accept people at the door if they have room, but it's best to phone first to check. You might be turned away if you arrive when the hostel is full.

Some hostels only help certain groups of people, such as:

  • single young people
  • people with drug or alcohol addictions
  • people with mental health problems
  • people who have been sleeping on the streets for a long time.