Implemented by MBC’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. The Council considers the weather conditions and forecast when implementing SWEP - rather than waiting for extended periods below freezing.
MBC Deputy Leader Jonathan Purle said:
The Council has been working hard to build the stock of emergency accommodation but rough sleeping is often associated with a myriad of personal problems that keep people from accessing help.
Periods of extreme cold weather are killers, so it’s critical that we get everyone in and the MBC Outreach Team is here to help. I walked down Week St early one morning this week. It was bitterly cold and saw two people occupying shop doorways. It’s incumbent on any of us who see people in trouble like this to contact the Council’s Team, who can speak with them, understand their needs and get them help.
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. If anyone knows of someone who is homeless in the Maidstone area they are asked to contact MBC.
Cllr Purle continued:
I really would urge anyone who has nowhere to stay, or anyone who knows of anyone sleeping rough, to contact the Outreach Team on 01622 683933, so we can get them in from the cold.
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. If someone would like to donate or help rough sleepers to contact a registered charity.