Oxford City Council has activated its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) for rough sleepers.
This means that the council and local homelessness organisations will make extra bed spaces available for rough sleepers in the city from tonight until Sunday night in the first instance.
A decision on whether to extend SWEP activation beyond the weekend will be made on Monday.
SWEP bed spaces open on the first night of a period when the Met Office forecasts the temperature will fall to zero or below on three or more consecutive nights. When SWEP is activated, emergency accommodation is available for anyone who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the night – even if they would not usually be eligible for the city’s adult homeless pathway.
The Met Office weather forecast is for the overnight temperature to be below zero on Friday and Sunday night, and above zero for Saturday night.
Although the usual conditions for SWEP activation have not been met, the council has exercised discretion to do so, in consultation with key local partners St Mungo’s and Homeless Oxfordshire.
The council has alerted The Porch, A2Dominion and other providers that work alongside St Mungo’s and Homeless Oxfordshire that SWEP has been activated.
The Oxford Street Population Outreach Team (Oxford SPOT), which is run by St Mungo’s and based at Homeless Oxfordshire’s O’Hanlon House, will tell potential rough sleepers that SWEP beds are available from tonight until Sunday night in the first instance.
Rough sleepers who want to access SWEP accommodation need to present themselves at O’Hanlon House between 9 pm and 9:30 pm every night that beds are available.
As well as SWEP, ten extra beds are available for rough sleepers without a local connection under the Oxford WInter Night Shelter (OWNS). OWNS is operated by a group of Oxford churches and will be open until the end of March. Unlike SWEP, rough sleepers who want to access OWNS must be verified by Oxford SPOT.
Rough sleepers or people concerned about someone sleeping rough can contact Oxford SPOT on 01865 304611 to make a referral. This is not an emergency line but calls will be followed up as soon as possible. Oxford SPOT can also be contacted via email at [email protected].
Referrals for Oxford SPOT can also be made through the 24 hour national StreetLink service at www.streetlink.org.uk or by using the StreetLink app.
Anyone who believes there is immediate danger to the health of a rough sleeper should call 999.