Helping rough sleepers indoors when the weather hits zero

Cllr Sharon Thompson, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, outlines the current picture for homelessness in Birmingham and the actions that are being taken to support rough sleepers now that temperatures have plummeted.

Homelessness has increasingly become a national topic of concern and it’s not just something we’re hearing about in the media.

Anyone who walks down a town or city street is likely to see the signs of those who are sleeping rough and in this respect, unfortunately, Birmingham is no different to the rest of the country.

Our cold weather provision is triggered once the temperature reaches zero degrees and will remain in place until the weather improves. This provision ensures that for anyone who wants it, there is a safe space indoors available for them.

No one needs to sleep outdoors who does not wish to. Everyone who is sleeping rough across Birmingham will be able to access cold weather provision. This includes pet owners, couples, individuals whose needs might be more complex and those who have no recourse to public funds.

We’re working closely with our partners in the voluntary sector and a total of 135 spaces are available. When the temperature drops, centres will open to rough sleepers from 8pm to 8am and then continue to be open on subsequent nights, until the temperature increases.

We have also partnered with new providers to expand the cold weather spaces available should demand exceed this capacity and we’ve also identified opportunities for extreme red warning conditions.

We also have a Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) protocol, initiated in Birmingham whenever there is a yellow weather warning in place, or whenever temperatures have a real feel of zero degrees or below.

SWEP opens up rest rooms across our supported hostels and is particularly aimed at the harder 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.

While there are many different projects in place that are designed to support the homeless, the best way to help a rough sleeper that you are concerned for is by alerting Street Link.

Other information

Individuals can refer themselves to the Salvation Army, William Booth Centre, 72 Shadwell Street, B4 6HA, telephone number 0121 236 6554.

The annual Christmas Shelter will be open from 23 to 27 December 2018 and will be run from St George’s Hub Great Hampton Row, Birmingham B19 3JG.

This blog was posted on 18 December 2018

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