Extra support for rough sleepers during hot spell

Tue, 23/07/2019

As a heatwave hits London this week, dedicated patrols to stop rough sleepers from suffering dehydration, sunstroke and heat exhaustion will be in action on Westminster’s streets.

Westminster City Council’s Heatwave Severe Weather Emergency Protocol comes into place when there are three consecutive days when thermometers are forecast to hit at least 28 degrees celsius. Council outreach teams will work closely with the NHS Homeless Health Service and a number of charities including St Mungo’s, the Connection at St Martin’s and the Passage to reduce the risk posed to rough sleepers by prolonged periods of heat and direct sunshine.

While all London boroughs have similar plans in place for cold weather snaps, Westminster is the only council in the city to plan for supporting rough sleepers in heatwaves. Westminster currently spends more than £7m a year on supporting rough sleepers – more than any other local authority.

Cllr Ian Adams, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing said:

“The hot weather can be just as dangerous as the cold for people living on the streets.

“We already provide a comprehensive support package to help those sleeping rough off the street, but in hot weather we want to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in our society don’t suffer due to this prolonged sunny spell.”

Support provided will include:

  • Free water given out to rough sleepers and also available in hostel receptions and clinics.
  • Day centre clinics will be alerted to look out for signs and symptoms of heat related health problems and trained medical staff will be on hand to respond.
  • Hot weather packs including water and rehydration tablets will be available in hostels across the city for the most vulnerable clients.
  • Extra day centre spaces with longer opening times in the day to ensure the most vulnerable rough sleepers have somewhere to go where they can be out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • The Dogs on the Street charity will be available to ensure dogs living on the street have access to water bowls and are screened for signs of dehydration.

To support this activity Sainsbury's provided oral rehydration sachets, sun cream and talcum powder to be distributed amongst rough sleeping accommodation in Westminster, to prevent illness amongst those residents most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Westminster has also just launched a Hidden Network campaign to help tackle rough sleeping in the city. The campaign tells the story of professionals and volunteers from local services and registered charities that partner with the council to provide life-changing work to help people sleeping rough off the streets and to rebuild their lives. We’re encouraging the public to donate directly to these charities rather than giving money direct to rough sleepers, so that long-term support can be offered to those who need our help the most. 

Anyone concerned about someone sleeping rough should report it via StreetLink 

Contact: Westminster City Council media team on 020 7641 2259.


Last updated: 23 July 2019