FROM first thing in the morning, Matthew Stevens sits on the pavement in George Street, opposite the New Theatre - even this week as temperatures have soared.

When asked about surviving the heatwave on the streets, he said: "I try to stay in the shade. Some people ask if I'm OK, some even give me water. It's very kind."

Asked what he needs most from kindhearted strangers, he answered immediately: "Somewhere cool to go. Some kind of a day centre, something open longer than the Gate House, which is open just couple of hours a day".

As far as Matthew is aware, the city authorities did not employ any special measures to help those sleeping rough during the period of record-breaking temperatures. 

He said: "Council people do what they always do. They come, tell you to pack your things and move on. They don't want people to be on the streets. Outreach people come and ask how you are, though."

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Tomasz Spiewak is Polish, and has been living in the UK for 12 years. He's been in Oxford "since yesterday and probably only until tomorrow".

Asked about the weather, he said in Polish: "It's funny that you mentioned it. Most people - I mean it, like all the people - think that the only problem of the homeless is the cold. Even when we're dying from overheating, they're mostly worried that someone might freeze. 

"A couple of days ago I was in Swindon. It was hot as in hell, but suddenly this lady came and gave me a woollen blanket. First-grade stuff, I reckon it was really expensive. 

"What could I do, I thanked her and she went her way, happy that she had done a good deed. I exchanged the blanket."  

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Tomasz was a construction worker until his right hand was crushed in an accident two years ago.

He said: "A gas cylinder felt on my palm. It's a miracle the doctors saved it, but I barely can hold a cigarette with it.

"I was given some money, but without anything to do I started drinking again. After 13 years of sobriety.

"I probably could have got some compensation from my English employer, who didn't give a damn about workplace safety, but I never tried. Then I was evicted from the room I rented and went on the street."

"Britons are kind, helpful, generous people. I'm very ashamed that I don't work anymore and live off their charity. But I am more ashamed to go back to Poland and face my loved ones. I still hope to find my way back to the society."

The Oxford Street Population Outreach Team is a council-funded service provided by St Mungo's charity to help rough sleepers in Oxford.

Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, told the Mail's Andy Ffrench: “While many of us welcome the fact that the sun is finally out, people sleeping rough are especially vulnerable to hot weather.

"The best way to help people experiencing homelessness is to get them to come inside where support services can engage with them to help them off the streets.

“If you are concerned about someone on the streets during the summer months, please report them to OxSPOT or StreetLink.

"You can also help by giving your time, money or help in kind to the day services that provide water, food, showers and shade to people sleeping rough.”

Amanda is English, homeless for three years and states that she "doesn't have a last name anymore". 

She came to Oxford city centre to beg, but temperatures mean she is seeking shadier refuge: "Most homeless people in Oxford now camp by the canals. I do the same, but there are barely any people there, and begging is the only thing I can do.

"So most of us, who sleep rough, have to choose between being baked alive while begging in hope to make money to buy food and hiding from the weather but risking hunger. 

"I don't mind sleeping rough, it's a form of freedom. I was in a mental hospital earlier, but it didn't work for me. I only miss showers, especially now", she laughs.

Back on the street, Bulgarian Nicolai Maren seems to be unaffected by the weather - in full sun he sculpts dog-shaped creatures from wet sand on the pavement in Cornmarket Street.

He said: "People help, they give some money, water. They take pictures, they like my work. It is OK." 

At first he seems not to understand when he's asked about how he copes with being homeless in the hot weather. Then he grins and waves his hand with disregard. "It is hot, yes. But I like sun, you know", he says.

To give details about a rough sleeper who may need help in the hot weather, including their location, people can call OxSPOT during office hours on 01865 243229 or email