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Extra support available for rough sleepers to keep cool during extreme heat

Shoppers on Oxford Street and a double decker bus on the left

Westminster in the sun

Published: 18 July 2022

Last week, Westminster City Council has initiated its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to protect the most vulnerable during the hot weather in the city and it will remain in place until Tuesday.

SWEP is traditionally used when temperatures plummet to freezing during the winter but can also be used to ensure special provisions are made for people sleeping rough when temperatures soar.

Westminster has experienced high temperatures in recent days and a Red weather warning has been issued by the Met Office for Monday and Tuesday next week.

Westminster Council and its partners will be handing out water and offering advice to protect people sleeping rough from heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sun stroke.

Outreach teams including St Mungo’s, Connections at St Martin’s, and the Passage, are increasing welfare checks, providing plenty of water and sunscreen and ensuring people sleeping rough know where to access cool spaces and water fountains.

Day shelters are available across Westminster, giving people sleeping rough access to shade and refreshments during the hottest hours of the day.  Overnight accommodation is also available for rough sleepers for the duration of the heatwave.

Support for homeless pets will be provided by voluntary agency Dogs On The Streets this week, who offer veterinary treatment and deliver cooling mats to pets on the streets plus temporary fostering.

Cllr Liza Begum, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Housing Services, said:

We are experiencing very high temperatures, which can be just as dangerous as the cold weather for people sleeping rough.  

Our outreach workers continue to work around-the-clock to support people sleeping rough by offering water and sun cream plus advice to ensure they stay safe during the extreme heat.

 We will be working hard with our partners to make sure those who are vulnerable are receiving the necessary help and support during these tough weather conditions.

Anyone who is concerned about someone sleeping rough can contact Streetlink, or call 0300 500 0914. Streetlink will then pass on the information of the person’s location to local outreach teams who will help them access support services. If a person needs immediate attention, please call 999.