Extreme weather support for rough sleepers stepped up


Councillors at Gloucester City Council are set to endorse help given to rough sleepers in extreme weather being extended.


Councillors at tonight’s cabinet meeting will consider the extension to the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) that offers rough sleepers accommodation during sub-zero temperatures or when weather warnings are issued.  

Until now, people who rough sleep were offered emergency accommodation, irrelevant of their housing status, when temperatures were below zero for three consecutive nights or -3 on a single night.

However, that help will now be extended to other categories of severe weather including heavy rain, winds and snow, which are announced by the Met office weather warnings and can equally impact on the wellbeing of someone rough sleeping.

Further improvements also see SWEP called the day before the weather warning takes effect or the sub-zero temperature are expected, giving the Outreach team and Voluntary and Faith Sector more time to mobilise and find all potential rough sleepers.

In Gloucester SWEP accommodation providers include Newton House, the George Whitefield Centre, Taylor House, and Park View Court and accommodation is provided to Gloucester residents and others from across the county between November and March.

The extension of SWEP will also allow more engagement with rough sleepers to offer them support and encouragement to access services and pathways to accommodation.

The move follows a recent announcement by the city council and its partners, of a funding boost to the Social Impact Bond (SIB) service, which will now provide targeted support to an extra 16 vulnerable individuals with complex needs, delivered by P3 and which achieved positive results in its first year.

SIB supports rough sleepers or those are long-term homeless and face complex barriers to accessing and staying in accommodation, such as drug or alcohol misuse, offending history, or mental ill health.

Councillor Jennie Watkins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “Rough sleeping is a national issue and one here in Gloucester we are working hard with our partners on to support vulnerable people into accommodation. As a result we provide a wide range of community and specialist support services for both rough sleepers and people experiencing homelessness.

“However, individuals can have complex issues that can be a barrier to accessing and remaining in accommodation and these cases can require a different approach. We will continue to do our best to engage those who are vulnerable and to support them to access help. I am incredibly grateful for the partnership work and passion across the sectors who make a real difference to people’s lives. 

“By extending SWEP we are responding to feedback from our community to protect people during extreme weather and we are also able to take the opportunity to work with them to try and guide them into breaking the cycle of rough sleeping.”

If you’re concerned about a rough sleeper please contact the P3 Outreach team via Streetlink www.streetlink.org.uk, download the app, or call 0300 500 0914.

Alternatively individuals can be referred to SWEP by the city council in office hours or by the Emergency Duty Team on 01452 614194 in evenings or weekends.