Cold weather provision 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.

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.

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:

  1. Via the HOST Website: .You can use this website to send an alert to HOST about a rough sleeper. The first time you use this website you will need to create an account. This takes approximately 30 seconds and it is easy to use.
  2. 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 listed above. 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.
  3. Via SIFA Fireside, 48 Alcock Street, Birmingham, B9 4DY – this is accessed by individuals by attending the centre and during its opening hours.
  4. 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 23 to 27 December run from St George’s Hub, Great Hampton Row.

This blog was posted on 14 December 2017