Oxford City Council is extending the opening emergency beds for people experiencing rough sleeping tonight (Thursday 27 February).
The council has used its discretion to continue the activation of the severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) due to the Met Office forecasts of sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperatures.
This means that beds will open for anyone who wants to come inside tonight. The council will decide whether to extend or close SWEP on Friday morning (28/02), however ‘feels like’ temperatures are expected to rise above zero for the following nights.
SWEP is emergency accommodation for anyone experiencing rough sleeping – including people who have no local connection to Oxford, no right to claim benefits or housing in the UK or who have refused offers of accommodation and support.
“We’re using our discretion and are extending the activation of SWEP and the opening of emergency beds because the Met Office is continuing to forecast a sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperature tonight. We will review the situation tomorrow morning, however based on the current forecast, temperatures are expected to rise.
“The outreach team (OxSPOT) and day services are telling people experiencing or at risk of rough sleeping that emergency beds are available tonight. If you’re concerned about somebody sleeping rough please contact OxSPOT on 01865 243229 or email Outreach.Oxford@mungos.org. OxSPOT is not an emergency service and will follow up all calls or emails as quickly as possible.”
Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Housing
Activating emergency beds
Until this year, the council – in common with most other councils – activated SWEP on the first night of a Met Office forecast that the overnight temperature would fall to zero or below on three or more consecutive nights.
This winter SWEP beds are available on every night the Met Office forecasts sub-zero overnight temperatures.
The council also uses its discretion to open emergency beds in other severe weather conditions. These can include snow on the ground, sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperatures or a warmer night in the middle of a prolonged freezing spell.
Allocating SWEP beds
In previous years people would have to present at O’Hanlon House between 9pm and 9:30pm before they knew where their bed for the night was.
The outreach and assessment team, OxSPOT, is now allocating SWEP spaces to people during the day and notifying them where and when they need to go. This means that they can go straight to their SWEP venue and will not necessarily have to attend O’Hanlon House.
People who have not been allocated a SWEP space in advance can present at O'Hanlon House between 11 pm and midnight.
Free kennels are available for anyone with a dog or dogs who wants to use a SWEP bed. These must be arranged with OxSPOT in advance and are not available on the night.
Referrals from neighbouring districts
The council is working with neighbouring district councils to ensure that everyone in Oxfordshire who needs an emergency bed can access one. The districts can refer people sleeping rough to SWEP beds in Oxford if they are unable to accommodate them in their areas.
More information about SWEP
Detailed information about SWEP.