What is severe weather?
Although there is no set definition for severe weather, the homelessness sector class it as conditions where there is an increased risk to the lives and health of people who are sleeping rough. This can be extreme cold, heat, wind, snow and rain.
National guidance for activating a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) states that it should be activated during periods when there are forecasts of 0 degrees or below zero for three or more consecutive nights. However, last winter the Greater London Authority rolled out new pan London guidance that SWEP is to be activated for any single night that the temperature is forecasted to be 0 degrees or below. This brings the pan London guidance in line with what has historically rolled out in London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The ‘feels like’ temperature is also considered as well as other factors like wind, rain or snow.
Providence Row's SWEP Provision
This winter Providence Row has been commissioned by our Local Authority (LA) the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH), to run a Winter Crash Pad, part of LBTH SWEP provision, during times when the SWEP is triggered.
This includes bed spaces for people who have been referred to us from Tower Hamlets Street Outreach Team (TH SORT) run by homelessness charity St Mungo’s. The rough sleepers can either be male or female verified rough sleepers (including couples, those with no recourse to public funds, those excluded from the hostel sector and people with pets). Access to this service is restricted to those referred by TH SORT.
This provision runs during the winter period and offers:
- 15 temporary bed spaces within our day centre 24/7 throughout the SWEP
- Homelessness assessments
- Access to nurse and prescription service
- Immigration advice
- Support from a Psychologist
- Access to a vet
- Access to mental health support
- Access to outreach workers
The aim of the service is to not only get rough sleepers off the streets at a time when they’re most vulnerable to death and physical harm from severe weather, but also using that opportunity to move these people into suitable accommodation as soon as possible.
How to access this service:
This service is a referral only service via TH SORT. Unfortunately we won’t be able to accept walk-ins.
If you are concerned about a rough sleeper?
If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough please refer them to StreetLinkhttps://www.streetlink.org.uk/ who will refer their information to their local outreach team. Outreach workers receive these referrals and visit the sleep sites of these rough sleepers as soon as possible in order to verify them as rough sleepers and work with them to help them get off the streets.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What if someone tried to access Providence Row’s Winter Crash Pad, but has not been referred by an outreach team?
Unfortunately bed spaces are referral only, however if someone claiming to be rough sleeping approaches us during a SWEP we can work with them to refer them to an alternative provision either inside or outside of what is commissioned by the Local Authority. In addition, TH SORT will continue to respond to new referrals and actively look for and verify anyone who may be rough sleeping during SWEP and immediately support them to bring them indoors.
Why is Providence Row’s Winter Service Referral only?
Providence Row’s Winter Service is one element of a Borough-wide service which includes other night shelters. Providence Row’s service is specifically for rough sleepers identified by SORT as entrenched rough sleepers who are unlikely or unable to access the Borough’s other SWEP services. The few beds we have are reserved for those people. This is why we cannot accept walk-ins. For those without a referral to the service we will work with our partners and the local authority to help them to access the Borough’s other SWEP services.
How are homelessness services planning ahead for a cold winter?
For this winter, the Local Authority have more than doubled the number of beds in their SWEP provision with a focus of increasing provision for rough sleepers who during previous SWEP periods had few options available to them. They have also increased the number of outreach workers in an already large and experienced commissioned outreach team to ensure that they can quickly assess and verify new rough sleepers to move them away from the streets. Increasing the capacity of SORT will also mean that during SWEP periods they will be able to quickly get to and move those who are on our streets into a place of safety, and work intensively with those in SWEP beds to move them into longer-term accommodation and away from the streets for good.
How can I support rough sleepers this winter?
- If you know someone is rough sleeping please refer them to StreetLink using their app https://www.streetlink.org.uk/
- You can donate to a homelessness charity or to the London Homelessness Charity Group Winter Appeal
- There will be volunteering opportunities for those who want to provide hands-on support for our SWEP provision – (more info coming soon).