Accommodation offered to Shropshire's rough sleepers as temperatures drop well below zero
Rough sleepers have been visited by Shropshire support workers throughout the week as the temperature has dropped well below freezing.
Shropshire Council said that the situation had seen its rough sleepers team activating the 'Severe Weather Emergency Protocol' (SWEP) – intended to ensure those sleeping rough have a warm place to sleep.
The authority said SWEP, which forms part of the council’s annual cold weather provision, aims to get people off the streets during periods of severe weather, by providing emergency accommodation to anyone sleeping rough.
With temperatures dropping to as low as -6C in some areas of Shropshire this week, the council’s rough sleepers team have been working throughout the evening visiting rough sleepers across the county, offering accommodation and warm food and drinks.
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and assets, said: “We know the winter months can be extremely challenging for many people, especially those who are rough sleeping.
“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."
Laura Fisher, Shropshire Council’s head of housing, resettlement and independent living, added: “Shropshire Council’s SWEP protocol has been activated this week following the drop in temperature.
“SWEP is run by the council’s rough sleepers team and volunteers comprising of The Shrewsbury Ark, mental health team and other partner agencies.
"Hot and cold drinks, light snacks, soup, toast, cakes and biscuits are provided free of charge for anyone accessing SWEP.
“Throughout evenings this week our rough sleepers team have been visiting all rough sleepers to remind them that this provision is available, and to encourage them to come in from the cold. Police, the 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.
“This year SWEP is better equipped and staffed, so to ensure no one has to be out in freezing weather SWEP will be activated on a daily basis when the weather gets to zero degrees or below at any time overnight.
People who know someone is rough sleeping can contact support via thestreetlink.org.uk