World Homeless Day: Supporting rough sleepers in the coming winter months
To mark World Homeless Day (Saturday 10 October 2020), we’ve been raising awareness of the work being undertaken to help eliminate homelessness across Shropshire.
In today’s final story, we talk about how Shropshire Council and partners are working through plans to ensure rough sleepers are supported in the coming winter months.
Cold Weather Provision plan
During the winter season, all rough sleepers are offered accommodation, which may be shared housing, bed and breakfast or similar.
Between November and March, as temperatures begin to drop, the council along with The Shrewsbury Ark and other key partners will activate the Cold Weather Provision (CWP) plan, to support rough sleepers. Those who are sleeping rough will have access to hot food, support and a warm place to stay both day and night when the cold winter temperatures kick in.
Each evening housing officers visit all rough sleepers to remind them that this provision is available, and to encourage them to come in from the cold. Police, council, street pastors and others are also helping to ensure everyone is made aware that they do not need to be outside. Taxis are available for those who may be unable to travel easily to this facility.
Laura Fisher, Shropshire Council’s service manager for housing services and occupational therapy said:
“Each year all rough sleepers are offered accommodation over the winter period as soon as we know they’re on the streets.
“However, despite every effort being made, some people will still choose to remain outdoors. While we will not judge anyone’s reasons for this, it is important to note that during this bitter weather, we will do everything possible to ensure that all rough sleepers are aware of this provision.
“For those who refuse the offer of CWP there will be an offer of Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) during times when the weather is considered severe. SWEP is run by a team of volunteers comprising of staff from both Shropshire Council and partner agencies such as The Shrewsbury Ark and Shropshire Recovery Partnership.”
Whilst the Government has increased funding and the council have implemented more initiatives to assist rough sleepers, it’s important that people know what they can do on the individual level and pass this knowledge onto others so they can help too.
Donating money is the one of the fastest way to help rough sleepers. Team Shrewsbury will be re-launching the Alternative Giving Scheme over the winter of 2020/21 to ensure that money goes direct to groups that help the homeless in Shrewsbury
Four metal collection boxes are now in place in Shrewsbury town centre to encourage people to donate money directly to local homelessness charities, rather than giving it to someone begging in the town’s streets. The scheme was been introduced as many people who beg are not actually homeless or sleeping rough, and many may beg to feed a drug or alcohol habit.
The money collected in the boxes will be distributed by The Shrewsbury Ark, the Rough Sleepers Task Force Group and Shrewsbury Street Pastors, and 100% of all donations will go to help the homeless and vulnerable individuals in Shrewsbury.
This scheme has proved very successful in that money donated has been used is to fund deposits for private rent properties for people who were previously rough sleeping.
Other ways you can help
You can follow @shropcouncil and @HomelessDay on twitter throughout World Homeless Day, hashtag #WorldHomelessDay.
CWP offers accommodation to all current known rough sleepers as well as any new clients who present during the winter months. The offer of Cold Weather Provision is made to all known and verified rough sleepers. For those who accept the offer accommodation, this provision offers stability and security to rough sleepers identified by Shropshire’s taskforce, and presents opportunities for officers to engage with and provide support to those requiring it. Assistance is provided to explore a range of accommodation options in an attempt to find suitable, permanent accommodation away from street homelessness.