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 have previously refused offers of accommodation and support.
SWEP's primary purpose is to provide emergency shelter during severe winter weather.
We activate SWEP on every night when the Met Office forecasts the overnight temperature in Oxford will fall to zero or below.
We can also open emergency beds on a discretionary basis during other severe weather conditions – such as when there is snow on the ground, a sub-zero “feels like” forecast or a warmer night during a prolonged freezing spell.
We activate SWEP in consultation with our outreach and assessment service, OxSPOT, and in line with guidance from Homeless Link.
We decide whether to activate or extend SWEP for a particular night or period by 10 am on any day when it looks like SWEP needs to open, 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.
During the day, OxSPOT and other local agencies work to ensure that everyone who may need to access SWEP is aware that it is open and understands how they can access the service. OxSPOT will allocate SWEP spaces to people and notify them where and when they need to go that night.
District councils and network partners can refer people to OxSPOT so they can be allocated a SWEP space.