Cold weather provison and advice for rough sleepers
Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s ambassador for addressing rough sleeping and homelessness, outlines the measures in place to support rough sleepers in the freezing cold weather.
Since the end of November our cold weather provision has been in place and will remain in place until the weather improves.
What is in place to protect rough sleepers from the extreme cold?
We also have a Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) protocol, which is initiated in Birmingham whenever there is a yellow weather warning in place, or whenever temperatures have a real feel of zero degrees or below. The criteria for initiating the provision in Birmingham go beyond the Homeless Link guidance, as we base our activities on actual temperatures.
SWEP opens up rest rooms across our supported hostels. It is particularly aimed at the most hard to reach rough sleepers to prevent them from being out in the most severe weather. It provides a hot meal and breakfast and an opportunity to try and engage with those accessing the provision.
How to access SWEP
Access to SWEP is co-ordinated by Midland Heart, who deliver our commissioned outreach service. This service is known as HOST (Homeless Outreach Service Team).
The SWEP can be accessed in the following ways:
- Via the HOST – anyone can refer individuals to this service by calling 07483 981912. You can also use http://www.streetlink.org.uk to send an alert to the Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST) about a rough sleeper (you will need to create an account on the website).
- Via Salvation Army – this service operates as an out of hours service for HOST. It is only to be used outside of the core hours for HOST. Anyone can refer individuals to this service by phoning 0121 236 6554. Please note that the Salvation Army operate a limited service and will signpost individuals to accommodation rather than outreach. They will base their decision on accommodation based on current availability; location of the rough sleeper and their known risk factors. This may involve referring them to Birmingham City Council Temporary Accommodation.
- Via SIFA Fireside, 48 Alcock Street, Birmingham, B9 4DY – this is accessed by rough sleepers attending the centre during its opening hours.
- Via attending at the hostel – individuals can attend the accommodation providers commissioned by Birmingham City Council and request accommodation. However, this may be subject to spaces still being available and rough sleepers may be sent to alternative providers, if already full.
- In addition to the above, there are a number of voluntary providers who deliver overnight shelter provision, for example, As Suffa and the Church Night Shelter. Midland Heart will link in with them as appropriate.
- There will also be an annual Christmas Shelter, which will be open from 23rd -27th December at St George’s Hub, Great Hampton Row.