Emergency beds for people experiencing rough sleeping will be available tonight and over the weekend after Oxford City Council activated its severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP).
Severe weather forecast
The council activates SWEP on every night the Met Office forecasts freezing overnight temperatures. It also uses its discretion to do so 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 freezing spell.
The current forecast is for freezing temperatures on Friday and Saturday night, with sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperatures tonight and on Sunday night.
This means that emergency beds will open for anyone who wants to come inside, initially from tonight (Thursday 31 March) until Monday morning (4 April).
The council will decide whether or not to extend SWEP on Monday morning. The current forecast suggests that SWEP will then close.
What is SWEP?
SWEP is emergency accommodation for anyone experiencing rough sleeping – including people who have no right to claim benefits or housing in the UK or who have refused offers of accommodation and support.
Before the pandemic SWEP was provided in shared sleeping spaces but the need to do so safely for people who may be at particular risk from Covid-19 means that they are now offered their own room for the night.
Allocating SWEP beds
The St Mungo’s outreach and assessment team allocates SWEP beds to people during the day and notifies them where and when they need to go.
People who have not been allocated a SWEP bed in advance will be able to present at O'Hanlon House between 11 pm and midnight.
One of the SWEP venues is suitable for people with dogs and St Mungo’s can also arrange free kennels if necessary. Kennels must be arranged in advance and are not available on the night.