ROUGH sleepers will be offered a bed when any severe weather hits.
Stratford District Council has agreed to to extend its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to include extreme weather such as wind, heat, snow and rain, as well as freezing temperatures.
The SWEP is triggered when severe weather is forecast, meaning those sleeping on the streets will be provided with bed and breakfast accommodation.
Previously rough sleepers were only given a bed if the temperature dipped below freezing for three consecutive nights, a procedure which was agreed in 2011.
Health, wellbeing and housing council spokeswoman Jacqui Harris welcomed the move.
She said: “Most of us can’t imagine what it must be like to sleep rough, but I hope that the decision taken by the cabinet goes some way to offer some protection in the future to those who need it the most.
“The humanitarian duty on the district council should weigh heavily in our minds and we should recognise that by protecting this vulnerable group we are also reducing implications for other public agencies such as the health service and GPs.”
The new procedure – which is based on guidelines by government organisation Homeless Link – should be in place in the next couple of weeks.
When the SWEP is triggered the council run drop-in centre Link Project extends its opening hours to provide more support to those sleeping on the town’s streets.
The Link Project provides help, support and advice to rough sleepers, those in temporary housing and people who are socially isolated. This includes access to showering and washing facilities, food and drink and donated clothing.
Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stratfordlinkproject to donate.