Due to the ongoing hot weather and the stress this can put on the daytime street population, Westminster City Council has instituted its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). This unconditional support is provided by the Council’s outreach workers, with the help of homeless health nurses and the Council’s Integrated Street Engagement Unit.
Included are basics for hot weather, such as sunscreen and bottled water, along with clinics run by homeless health nurses on a daily basis to check people for signs of dehydration and heatstroke.
Often people sleeping rough are especially vulnerable to the heat due to mental health issues, chronic health conditions and substance abuse problems. Exposure to strong sunlight and heat can exacerbate many health conditions and this is why the Council’s intervention is so vital. Our outreach workers will be seeking out the most vulnerable and offering them an accommodation option to give them some rest from the heat.
We are also working with the charity Dogs on the Street (DOTS) to ensure pets living with rough sleepers are safe in the heat. With their help we will be looking for pets and offering their owners sleep mats, bowls, water and rehydration kits.
Typically used during extremely cold periods during the winter months SWEP can provides hundreds of extra bed spaces to anyone found on the street at night regardless of their access to public funds. During last February’s snowstorms the council and their partners were able to provide 260 extra bed spaces for rough sleepers in Westminster.
Councillor Ian Adams, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, said:
“This ongoing heat wave can be dangerous for any member of the public, and rough sleepers are particularly at risk.
“Over-exposure to strong sunlight is one of the many risks faced by people sleeping rough, and that is why we are offering support to anyone we can find.
“We will not only be providing bottled water and sun screen, but health checks, help for pets and accommodation spaces to anyone in need.
“Our teams are out there working with people come rain or shine and as ever I would urge everyone in Westminster to help us find rough sleepers by visiting StreetLink.org.uk.”
Notes to editors:
If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough in England or Wales, you can use this website to send an alert to StreetLink. The details you provide are sent to the local authority or outreach service for the area in which you have seen the person, to help them find the individual and connect them to support. We will ask you to provide a specific location, time and any identifying details of the person. https://www.streetlink.org.uk/