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woman handing rough sleeper food

Hotel opens for emergency measures to protect rough sleepers in London

As the temperature in London continues to plummet, the Mayor of London has stepped up additional measures for rough sleepers in the capital, including hotel accommodation in East London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan plans to spend a record £1.25 million on Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) services this year to ensure rough sleepers are off the streets on the coldest days of winter.

SWEP was activated in London on 26 November this year when temperatures dropped below zero degrees Celsius.

It compels London councils to open emergency accommodation with the help of homeless charities, when temperatures could pose a threat to life.

This year, due to Covid-19, the process has altered and the Mayor has asked boroughs that only single-occupancy accommodation be used for SWEP provision this year.

This includes hotel rooms, of which some will be made available through the Mayor who has invested more than £800,000 in a hotel in East London that will be run by homeless charity St Mungo.

In London, one in every 53 people are homeless according to Shelter.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: “The council has a dedicated rough sleeper team, working with the homelessness charity Spear, who are our commissioned street outreach provider.

“Working in partnership, we have well drilled procedures for contacting and offering accommodation during periods of severe weather and recently activated them for the first time this winter.”

The report from Shelter found Wandsworth homelessness levels to be higher than the national average, with one in 54 people experiencing homelessness in the area.

London boroughs will provide 500 SWEP beds this winter and the new hotel will provide a further 66 rooms.

LONDON ROUGH SLEEPING: 2,918 people were sleeping rough between July – September 2021

Those who access the SWEP scheme this year will be housed until a support plan is in place to end their rough sleeping, regardless if the temperature rises.

Sadiq Khan said: “Since becoming Mayor, I have made tackling rough sleeping a personal priority and we are finally starting to see sustained results with the number of rough sleepers falling in recent years – but there is still much to do.

“From City Hall and across London we are doing everything we can with the resources at our disposal to keep rough sleepers safe, especially during freezing conditions.”

Another measure from the new plan is the Mayor’s ‘In for Good’ scheme.

Khan added: “This extra SWEP space will ensure that dozens more rough sleepers will receive warm, secure accommodation when temperatures drop, and thanks to the ‘In For Good’ principle we know they will be housed until a plan to end their rough sleeping is in place.”

Feature Image Credit: Jon Tyson

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