As temperatures begin to drop this weekend, Shropshire Council’s housing team will be activating their emergency plans to support rough sleepers.
This year, to make the accommodation more accessible and suitable, the council have been preparing more premises in Shrewsbury, and all rough sleepers in the town will be given the opportunity to come in and access the SWEP (severe weather emergency protocol).
The enhanced service is free and has been set up with the support of The Shrewsbury Ark, Shropshire Housing Alliance and Shropshire Recovery Partnership.
This means rough sleepers will have access to hot food, support and a warm place to stay both day and night when the cold winter temperatures kick in.
Laura Fisher, Shropshire Council’s housing services manager, said:
“We have seen an increase in both rough sleeping and the more ‘hidden homeless’, including those in council temporary accommodation. In regards to rough sleepers, The Shrewsbury Ark continues to operate an outreach service on our behalf, along with various partners and some Shropshire Council housing staff. In addition to this, we have recently recruited a new rough sleeper co-ordinator and three outreach/inreach support workers to extend the service to the most vulnerable homeless customers. This will ensure all rough sleepers have quick and effective support to help them move from the streets; but equally importantly, the support will continue to help address the barriers to sustaining the accommodation and the root problems that have caused someone to become homeless in the first place.
“Each year, all rough sleepers are offered accommodation over the winter period, but for very complex reasons many will not accept this. This year, to make the accommodation more accessible and suitable, we have been preparing premises in Shrewsbury and all rough sleepers in the town will be given the opportunity to access the SWEP (severe weather emergency protocol) accommodation when the weather turns more severe. This is very similar to what The Shrewsbury Ark provided in recent winters, and we are grateful for its assistance in establishing the service this year. Other partners, including Shropshire Housing Alliance and Shropshire Recovery Partnership, have also been supporting us in this, and we will be working together to ensure that all rough sleepers are made aware of, and invited into, the service. Rough sleepers are not charged for accessing the SWEP, and we are grateful for the team of volunteers who are working with us and our partner organisations to help operate this vital service throughout the winter months.
“Where there are small numbers of rough sleepers in other parts of the county, each individual has been contacted and offered suitable accommodation more locally to them over the entire winter period.”
If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough please contact Streetlink. You can do this by calling 0300 500 0914 or https://www.streetlink.org.uk/