Council launches emergency protocol to protect rough sleepers during winter
Shropshire Council’s housing services recently launched its Cold Weather Provision (CWP) to support rough sleepers across the county.
CWP is a non-statutory provision of accommodation for all rough sleepers in Shropshire, and runs throughout the coldest months, usually between December and March each year.
Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said:-
“We want to remind people of the support available for those sleeping rough. Each year, our Cold Weather Provision provides emergency overnight accommodation so that people don’t have to sleep outside in the winter weather.
“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. Our officers will also work intensively with people who are rough sleeping or have no other accommodation and try to find them more permanent accommodation.
“The provision is available throughout the winter months even if an individual has refused an offer (or few) previously. For those who refuse, there is a statutory duty on the council to provide an offer of Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) during times when the weather is considered severe.
“We can all do our bit to help, so please keep an eye out for people who may have nowhere to go. If anyone is concerned about someone sleeping rough to contact the StreetLink helpline on 0300 500 0914 or visit www.streetlink.org.uk and provide as much information as you can about the person and their location. Our housing team will then make contact with the rough sleeper and provide them with help and assistance in order to try to find them accommodation.”
Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP)
Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) aims to get people off the streets during periods of severe weather, by providing emergency accommodation to anyone sleeping rough.
In Shropshire, SWEP tends to be initiated when it is expected to be below zero for three nights in a row. Depending on the severity of the weather, provision can often open for more than three nights.
SWEP is run by a team of volunteers comprising of staff from both Shropshire Council,
The Shrewsbury Ark and partner agencies such as Shropshire Recovery Partnership.
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 a facility.
If you are concerned that someone is sleeping rough you can contact either of the following organisations:-
Report via Streetlink:
- On the website – https://www.streetlink.org.uk/#
- By phone: 0300 500 0914
Notify Shropshire Council’s housing options team:
- Phone: 0345 678 9005
- Email: email@example.com
Contact The Shrewsbury Ark:
on 01743 363305
If you think the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999.
CWP is offered to all known and verified rough sleepers and provides stability and security for those living on the streets. CWP also presents opportunities for officers to engage with and provide support to those requiring it. Assistance is provided to explore a range of accommodation options to find suitable, permanent accommodation away from street homelessness.
When SWEP is activated, all known rough sleepers, who are ‘out’ will be notified – this is done through a mixture of direct contact, support worker, The Shrewsbury Ark staff and promotion on social media. If they are not in the Shrewsbury area, we will either offer a Cold Weather Provision offer in their local area or transport them to Shrewsbury.