Severe weather shelter (SWEP) FAQs

These are some of the queries we are asked about the cold weather shelter (SWEP). Updates about when SWEP is open and more information about the service can be found on our How we help rough sleepers page. 

What is SWEP?

We open a severe weather shelter in extreme weather conditions. The shelter is also known as SWEP (which stands for Severe Weather Emergency Protocols). It provides shelter for all rough sleepers in the city and venues are made available to meet demand.  

When is SWEP open?

Brighton & Hove City Council has one of the lowest triggers for opening SWEP provision in the country. Details of when SWEP is opened and what the trigger is for opening can be found on our How we help rough sleepers page. 

Can anyone who is rough sleeping go in?

Yes, there is no limit on numbers or any requirement for a local connection.

What if the main shelter venue is full?

Additional venues are opened if this happens, people will be helped with where to go on arrival at the shelter. The SWEP system is set up to allow for all those who need shelter as an emergency measure.

Is there a separate area for women?

Yes, women have a screened area and separate toilet facilities.

Is there food available?

People will be provided with a meal if needed.

Can people take their dogs into SWEP?


What time is the SWEP shelter open?

7pm to 8am (day services open at 8am).

What can I do to help?

You can share our updates when SWEP is open to support the outreach workers, information will be on our How we help rough sleepers page and shared on social media.

If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, contact Streetlink with the details and the information will be passed on to an outreach worker.

You can also support local charities helping people who are rough sleeping by making a donation to Make Change Count online or by texting UMCC18 £3, £5, £10 or £20 to 70070.

I’ve seen someone on the street, why haven’t you let them into SWEP?

Everyone is welcome in SWEP. An outreach worker is based at SWEP to help co-ordinate those arriving. Other outreach workers go out to look for anyone who has not turned up and is known to be on the streets. Sometimes people choose to stay outside and not come into the shelter.

Is anyone ever turned away?

We make every effort to help everyone who comes to SWEP. Occasionally, someone’s behaviour is a risk to themselves or others. The police are notified when we can’t let someone in or have to ask them to leave for safety reasons.

What other help is available?

The council provides a wide range of services and support for people who are rough sleeping. In recent years, new services have been introduced and existing services have been expanded to tackle the pressures on the city. We work closely with partners to provide help and support across Brighton & Hove. Regular monitoring is also carried out to understand the ongoing situation. An overview of key support services is on our How we help rough sleepers page.

Why isn’t SWEP open all the time?

The trigger for opening SWEP in Brighton & Hove is one of the lowest in the country. SWEP is an emergency shelter to keep people safe when the weather is severe. A key trigger for opening the shelter is when a “feels like 0 degrees” temperature is forecast by the Met Office and also takes into account windchill.