What is inside a HFRS Rough Sleeper Pack?

This question is often asked as there are many agencies and charities doing similar things and we all want to share information and best practice. So here are some more details!

The packs were put together on a budget of £500 from a donation from the Hatfield based charity Arise. The items to go inside was discussed at length but were purchased based on knowledge of survival needs from the armed forces and safety knowledge from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

These packs were designed to firstly enable someone rough sleeping to survive a cold winter, but to also limit the potential risk of exposure, hypothermia, de-hydration, fire and violence. This was done through the physical equipment purchased but also the sign posting and safety advice giving at the point of the packs being handed to the person rough sleeping through a member of HFRS.

Before a pack was handed to someone they were assessed by outreach workers from Resolve as to their suitability. Are they likely to use the pack and what is the chance of success? Over the course of winter 2016 packs were given to those who were very likely to respond in the opinion of Resolve but also to those who may have been at higher risk of losing the equipment. As this was a pilot project it was decided that it was worth exploring the potential usage by a range of persons.

HFRS agreed with Resolve what the criteria of receiving a pack should be and so the “Contact Contract” was developed. They should:

  • Agree to not sell or lose the pack
  • Maintain regular contact with Resolve
  • Share their accurate details so that further action and sign posting can be given


Outreach workers from Resolve approached a number of people and the response was very positive and encouraging. Initially three packs were issued following an assessment of the person at risk and how likely they were to respond. The packs were not designed to be give and forget – they were intrinsically linked to engagement, responsibility and re-humanising an already de-humanised person. When the packs were issued to a person, a member of HFRS went along with outreach workers from Resolve to open engagement but to also give critical safety advice.

The results have proven to be highly successful. A total of 7 packs were issued throughout the winter and each pack was used throughout that time. Impressively those people who were rough sleeping who would naturally hide from authority figures such as those from Resolve or HFRS were now actively looking for them to engage and say hello! By the end of winter of the 7 persons that had received a pack, one was on the path to being re-housed, another was engaging with the YMCA, and another still was on the cusp to fully seeking help to escape the rough sleeper trap.

The Contents                                                      

Waterproof rucksack 40L   

To carry personal belonging and equipment provided

Bed roll

To ensure any person sleeping rough is not laying on the bare ground – a very quick route to cold related health problems.

Sleeping bag  

To ensure a warm place to sleep without the need for lighting fires to create extra warmth.

Thick socks x3 pairs 

To keep feet warm and dry preventing feet related illnesses such as trench foot.


Most body warmth is lost through the head. A hat will help maintain boy warmth and reduce the risk of cold related illness.

Water bottle/flask 0.5L   

To keep hydrated or warm drinks provided by charity and food banks.

Rain poncho   

Keep dry and therefor warm helping prevent cold related illness.

Tobacco tin   

A place to store and extinguish cigarettes – having somewhere to extinguish a cigarette correctly will reduce the chance of an accidental fire starting.

Survival blanket  

Help ensure that on especially cold nights anybody warmth is retained – can also be laid onto the ground to prevent heat loss when sleeping. Reduces need for lighting fires and reducing risk of cold related illness.

Windup lantern  

Removes the need for candles or burning waste for lighting which can cause an accidental fire.

Basic utensils

Improves basic hygiene and restores an element of dignity.

Micro Towel 

To help stay dry and warm, reducing risk of cold and wet related illness.

Personal hygiene 

Items such as tampons, cleaning and feet care products to help improve hygiene and health of persons who are rough sleeping.

Wet wipes      

Will help with personal hygiene.

Hand Sanitiser – alcohol free     

Smoke detector    

Can be kept and moved around wherever the person may be sleeping at the time and may be especially useful for those sleeping within enclosed environments.

Incontinence Bags  

Somehow to dispose of bio-waste – reducing risk of disease to self and others.

Sign posting and Safety Advice

HFRS Rough Sleeper Pack

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