When the temperature drops below freezing, our teams work alongside local government to deliver SWEP.
SWEP stands for severe weather emergency protocol. It means more accommodation is made temporarily available so that everyone sleeping rough can be offered safe shelter.
Faz, Outreach Worker
“I got into outreach work because of my own experiences. I slept rough myself back in the ‘70s, I was only a teenager at the time. That’s what made me want to help people who are homeless, so they have the chance to turn things around like I did.
Back when I was on the streets there was no such thing as outreach, so I didn’t have people coming up to me and trying to offer me help. I got my first job as an Outreach Worker in 1991. I’ve been with St Mungo’s for the last two years.
Working during SWEP can be pretty chaotic. We have to drop all our normal admin work and just focus on heading out onto the streets. But I enjoy it really – I got into the job to go out and help people, not to sit in an office doing paperwork!
The biggest challenge for me during SWEP is prioritising who to help first. Of course you want to get everybody inside all at once, but there are some people who are more vulnerable that we need to get to first. If they’ve got physical or mental health problems, for example, or if they’re taking lots of substances, they could fall asleep in the cold without realising what’s going on. That could be fatal.”