Put in to operation by the Council’s Outreach Team, SWEP aims to prevent rough sleeping during extreme cold weather when the ambient temperatures ‘feel like’ zero or below to provide emergency accommodation for those in need. MBC considers the weather conditions when implementing SWEP - rather than waiting for extended periods below freezing.
John Littlemore, Maidstone Borough Council Head of Housing and Community Services said:
“The winter period often presents greater risks to people’s health, as extreme cold can cause serious problems and at worst - death for those who are exposed overnight or for long periods of time.
“Due to the incredible work that has seen rough sleeping in Maidstone significantly reduced and the need to comply with current Covid-19 restrictions, it was agreed with our voluntary groups that the traditional winter shelter facilities in Maidstone were outmoded, but anyone requiring emergency accommodation should contact the Council by calling 01622 602000 for assistance.”
SWEP enables MBC to help others sometimes providing the Outreach Team opportunities to engage with ‘entrenched’ rough sleepers and other ‘hard-to-reach’ groups, who may be more likely to accept support at this time of year.
Mr Littlemore continued:
“MBC’s Outreach Team works hard to support and protect rough sleepers across the borough. If anyone knows of someone who is homeless in the Maidstone area, please can I ask them to contact us, and if they would like to donate or help rough sleepers to contact a registered charity.”
Deaths on the streets are not limited to the effects of cold – severe weather conditions such as high wind, heavy rain, snow and heatwaves all increase the risk of harm. Help for those at risk of rough sleeping, is available at the MBC Marsham Street Outreach office. If help is needed ‘out-of-office’ hours, they are asked to call 01622 602000 for assistance.
Should anyone find a rough sleeper in the borough of Maidstone, please let MBC know by emailing the Outreach Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or use the national website: www.streetlink.org.uk who will pass the details the details on to the local team. The team will go and find the rough sleeper and offer support.