Help for people sleeping rough in very cold or extreme weather
During very cold weather, when the temperature is forecast to be 0 degrees or below we provide emergency accommodation for people known to be sleeping rough. This is outside the usual eligibility rules, so is available for people who we may not normally have to help, such as people with no recourse to public funds or those with no local connection.
During cold weather we will notify professional organisations and share information through social media to confirm when SWEP is in operation.
If you have nowhere to sleep tonight or are concerned about becoming homeless you can:
- call our Housing Options Team on 01327 322374
- come into our office at The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, NN12 6AD - Please note the office is closed to the public during the Covid-19 situation; all contact needs to be by telephone.
We are open 9:15am to 5:15pm Monday to Friday. The earlier in the day you contact us, the more time we will have to help you.
Outside of these hours, call our out of hours service on 0800 160 1022.
Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)
SWEP has two main aims:
- To ensure that no one dies on the streets due to severe weather.
- To ensure that every effort is made to reach out to people sleeping rough to help them get the services they need.
We will, barring exceptional circumstances, provide accommodation for individuals who are known to be rough sleeping in the district and with whom we can make contact.
When will we implement SWEP?
- If the temperature is forecast to be 0ºC or lower on any single night or consecutive nights
- An occasional forecast above zero in a series of sub-zero nights and the impact of snow and wind chill, or excessive/prolonged rain, will be taken into account and individuals will be accommodated throughout the period of severe temperatures
- When severe weather conditions such as high wind, heavy rain, snow all increase the risk of harm to people sleeping rough. We will also consider operating the protocol in summer months should a heatwave be forecast.
The minimum requirement for local authority provision is to implement SWEP if the temperature is forecast to be 0ºC or lower for three consecutive days, however we aim to adopt a more flexible approach in helping rough sleepers in cold weather.
For how long?
- If a single night’s forecast is at zero degrees or lower, but then the temperature is forecast to rise and there is no significant snow fall or wind chill, the SWEP will be implemented for the single night only.
- If the forecast remains zero degrees or below, the SWEP will continue until the period of zero and below temperatures is broken by a series of increased temperatures and where there is no presence of significant snowfall or wind chill, or excessive/prolonged rain.
During SWEP what accommodation will be provided?
We will secure appropriate accommodation during SWEP periods.
Who will SWEP provision cover?
Our SWEP provision is for individuals who are known to be rough sleeping within the district, and who do not have any form of accommodation available to them, or the means to secure that accommodation is available to them.
SWEP operates outside the usual eligibility and entitlement frameworks that govern access to housing. It therefore covers those with no recourse to public funds; people who have previously been banned from access to services and those with no local connection.
If someone without a local connection approaches us, we would look to refer to the local authority where they do have a local connection (if they are operating SWEP) but accommodate whilst the referral is accepted.
Identifying a risk should not in itself exclude an individual from assistance through SWEP, it should however help to identify a risk management strategy and most appropriate hotel provision. Any risks will be identified in the usual way using our Jigsaw PRAH case management system.
How should someone approach for help?
- During Office Hours – call us on 01327 322374
- Out of Hours – call our out of hours service on 0800 160 1022.
What additional help will be offered?
- If a person needs warmer clothing or food usual routes of assistance are available, such as the foodbank, or our homelessness prevention fund
- People may be referred to the Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice or Department for Work and Pensions and for crisis help and support as appropriate
- We try to assist people to access services they want or need during the time they are provided with SWEP accommodation, and ongoing as part of any homelessness duties
- Our team may be able to provide support to a person while sleeping rough.
- Assistance with transport, to take up a SWEP placement, will be considered on a case by case basis
What will not be covered?
- We will cover the cost of accommodation only and will not pay for meals.
- SWEP provision is not statutory for any local authority.
- If the applicant is of exceptionally high risk, we may choose not to accommodate them through SWEP
- A person may be asked to leave SWEP accommodation as a result of failing to comply with their terms of occupation. If that circumstance occurs, our officers will inform the police and other relevant agencies working with that individual that SWEP is in place, but that individual is not being offered accommodation.