Severe Weather Emergency Protocol
What is SWEP?
Our Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) means that local homelessness agencies provide extra beds to rough sleepers during severe winter weather.
SWEP is emergency accommodation for any rough sleeper - including people who have no local connection, no right to claim benefits or housing in the UK, or who will not normally engage with outreach services and come inside.
SWEP's primary purpose is to provide emergency shelter during severe winter weather.
We activate SWEP 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.
We can also open emergency beds on a discretionary basis during other severe weather conditions, such as when there is snow on the ground.
We activate SWEP in consultation with the Street Population Outreach Team (OxSPOT) and Homeless Oxfordshire, and in line with guidance from Homeless Link.
We decide whether to activate or extend SWEP for a particular night or period by 11 am, and notify housing providers delivering emergency beds of our decision.
Staff in local homelessness organisations step up from their regular duties to deal with emergency conditions – this is on top of their day jobs.
OxSPOT tells potential rough sleepers that SWEP beds are open. Posters go up in homelessness services and we also undertake media and social media work to publicise the fact that SWEP has been activated.
Ahead of SWEP opening in the evening, OxSPOT will compile an “anticipated list” which provides the basis for allocating emergency beds in particular venues.