Protocol to protect rough sleepers activated in Kirklees as temperatures plummet
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Yesterday (Monday), the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) was triggered due to adverse weather conditions and plummeting temperatures to provide a ‘safety net’ for those at risk of sleeping rough. Its continuation will be reviewed on a daily basis.
The protocol is activated when temperatures are forecast to fall to zero degrees or below for three consecutive nights or when weather conditions are particularly severe.
A study by homelessness charity Shelter has revealed that last year, Kirklees had an estimated 731 people who were homeless – the highest figure amongst the other West Yorkshire towns.
Alarming insights had already been brought to light by Kirklees Council’s housing and neighbourhoods department in November 2022, with it revealed that 89 Kirklees families would be spending Christmas in B&Bs as the council struggled to find them accomodation.
However, measures are already in place to address homelessness in the district throughout the year including the work of the council’s rough sleeping initiative team, homelessness partners, and street outreach groups. These organisations facilitate access to emergency accommodation and provide support in addressing poor health and substance misuse.
SWEP is an additional measure providing quicker access to an emergency bed. Everyone who is given a bed receives a visit from a housing officer the next day to discuss options for longer term help.
If people are not ready to accept help through SWEP, the council’s partners at Huddersfield Mission and The Welcome Centre – organisations providing help to those in need – both offer somewhere they can get warm and have a chat.
Charlie Taylor, deputy advice manager at The Welcome Centre said: “These harsh weather conditions are extremely hard for those on the streets and rough sleepers. Having SWEP triggered as soon as possible is paramount for the safety of those most vulnerable to harsh weather. If you know of anyone who may need this support they should follow the SWEP procedures as soon as possible.”
The council has urged anyone who knows or meets someone who will be sleeping rough at this time to contact them on either:
The Emergency Duty Service for out of hours/weekends – 01484 414933
The Housing Solutions Service for weekdays between 9am and 5pm – 01484 221350