St Mungo’s rough sleeper teams respond to freezing weather

26 February 2018

With freezing weather and icy winds moving in across the country, St Mungo’s teams are redoubling efforts to help people rough sleeping off the streets and into emergency accommodation as temperatures become life-threatening.

When the temperature is forecast to drop below zero for three consecutive nights, local councils activate what’s called a SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) plan, working with their local homelessness services.

St Mungo’s outreach workers in London, Bristol, Oxford, Bournemouth, Basildon, Thurrock, Brighton and Reading will be working with local partners to provide emergency provision for those who could die if not helped inside.

In London, when the temperature is below freezing for just one night and other local provision is full, St Mungo’s runs the Mayor’s provision to support even more people inside, offering a hot shower, clean clothes, and hot food as well as an emergency bed, while staff work to find them more permanent options.

Petra Salva, Director of Outreach Services at St Mungo’s, said: “We will be working day and night to help as many people inside as possible. Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous but when temperatures drop, lives are at risk.

“Health problems connected to continued exposure to the freezing cold, including hypothermia, exacerbate people’s already poor physical and mental health. It’s vital that we get help to people quickly so we can save lives but also in the longer term, find people permanent accommodation and the space to recover.

“If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, I would urge people to get in touch via the StreetLink website to help connect someone with their local service as soon as possible.”

How to help:

• Be extra vigilant – visit or download the app to refer someone.
• Volunteer for StreetLink so they can help more people connect to outreach services:
• Support St Mungo’s
• Contact 999 in an emergency