Severe weather support for rough sleepers this winter

With Covid emergency accommodation still available to anyone sleeping rough in the city and the need for Covid safety measures to be in place, our Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) will be operating differently this year. 

Our focus continues to be to help everyone sleeping on the streets into safe, secure accommodation. Food and support continues to be provided for everyone who needs it.

Our street outreach partners St Mungo’s are working in the city seven days a week to engage with everyone rough sleeping to help support them into accommodation.

Some people with complex needs can find it difficult to move from the streets. We are aware there are around 30 people currently sleeping rough in the city.

We have set up a council-run SWEP venue with self-contained rooms to make sure there is an alternative safe place to stay in severe weather for anyone reluctant to take up the other offers of accommodation.

Shelter in severe weather

We open a severe weather shelter when the temperature is predicted to feel like zero degrees Celsius or below, or when there is an amber weather warning. This is one of the lowest triggers for opening SWEP services in the country. 

SWEP provides shelter for all rough sleepers in the city and venues are made available to meet demand.

The shelter was triggered for the first time at the beginning of last week and was open over the weekend.

When SWEP is triggered, St Mungo’s Street Outreach Service go out looking for the people we know to be rough sleeping to find them warm accommodation. 

Anyone not accommodated during the day is referred into our SWEP venue by the street outreach service.

Worried about someone sleeping rough?

If you see someone rough sleeping, please let us know through the Streetlink website or by calling 0300 500 0914 and our outreach team will seek to accommodate them.

It is important that anyone sleeping rough is offered help as soon as possible and that the assistance offered meets their needs, so accommodation for people on the streets is provided through referrals from organisations who understand what’s available and what support is needed. 

As accommodation is available for everyone sleeping rough this year, we won’t be publicly announcing when SWEP is triggered, but the service will be accessible through our referral agencies and partners.

Ongoing care and support

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked with health and voluntary sector partners to provide safe, self-contained accommodation for people who were sleeping rough.

We’re currently accommodating around 360 people who would otherwise be sleeping rough in the city, and are working to support them all into sustainable long-term housing. 

Around 130 people have left emergency accommodation since the end of September. Most of these people have been successfully rehoused in more stable accommodation and we’re on target to meet the challenging requirements set out in the government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme funding.

However, we are still seeing some new people rough sleeping in the city every week, which adds to the pressure of providing accommodation, and the overall numbers remain high.

In addition to this accommodation and SWEP, we’ve submitted bids to the government’s ‘Cold Weather Fund’ and ‘Protect Fund’ to provide specialist clinical intervention and additional accommodation for the most vulnerable rough sleepers over this winter. We're currently waiting to hear the outcome of those bids.

Keeping everyone safe

Councillor David Gibson, joint chair of the Housing Committee, said: “Our priority is to keep everyone sleeping rough in the city safe this winter, both from Covid and severe weather.

“Our focus continues to be to help everyone sleeping on the streets into safe, secure accommodation each and every day whatever the weather. 

“Once we house rough sleepers under ‘everyone in’, we are prioritising helping them move on to a sustainable housing solution and aim to accommodate as many verified rough sleepers as we can sustainably by 1 April through the next steps accommodation programme.

“For those who haven’t yet taken up offers of accommodation, our self-contained SWEP accommodation should provide access to shelter when the weather is bad.

“Like most things this year, running a SWEP venue needs to be done very differently and I’d like to thank everyone involved for the work involved to make it available.

“If you are worried about anyone rough sleeping, please let us know via Streetlink so we can provide them with the support they need.”

Councillor Gill Williams, the opposition lead for housing, said: “The work to provide support and accommodation to keep who were sleeping rough safe this year has been incredible.

“SWEP is a different ask this year but it is still a vital service to help keep people out of the cold.”

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