Freezing temperatures trigger emergency response for people sleeping rough

Posted on Friday 17 January 2020

With overnight temperatures due to fall below zero over the weekend, the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) will be activated in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole from Saturday 18 January to ensure that people who are rough sleeping can access a warm space for the night. It is anticipated that SWEP will be activated until the morning of Tuesday 21 January.

When SWEP is activated, emergency overnight spaces are opened up in St Stephen’s Church in Bournemouth and the United Reform Church in Poole.

Rough sleeping is always dangerous, but when temperatures drop it is life threatening. St Mungo’s Outreach Team, commissioned by BCP Council, will be on the streets throughout the day offering people sleeping rough a warm space for the night.

St Mungo’s is urging members of the public to:

  • Encourage anyone you see rough sleeping in Bournemouth to go to St Stephens Church Hall, St Stephens Way, BH2 6JZ at 8:30pm to secure their space for the night. Doors close at 10pm. People who have dogs will also be welcome to come in with them, as long as space allows.
  • Encourage anyone you see rough sleeping in Poole to go Poole United Reform Church, 36 Skinner Street, BH15 1RH at 8:30pm to secure their space for the night. Doors close at 10pm. People who have dogs will also be welcome to come in with them, as long as space allows.
  • Encourage anyone you see rough sleeping in Christchurch to call 01202 315962 or to go to either the Bournemouth or Poole SWEP locations if possible.
  • Dial 999 if someone needs emergency help.
  • Remember that www.StreetLink.org is not an emergency service – we do not get the referrals immediately so it’s best to use 01202 315962 or B&Pstreetoutreach@mungos.org during periods that SWEP is activated.

SWEP is activated when the temperature is forecast to drop below zero degrees for three consecutive nights, or when there is severe rain or storms predicted.

Andrew Teale, Outreach Manager at St Mungo’s, said:

“With freezing temperatures forecast it is vital that everyone sleeping rough in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole knows where to access the warm and safe space that is available for them overnight tonight.

“Rough sleeping is always harmful to your health but in the current cold weather conditions there is a genuine risk of loss of life.

“Our teams are out on the streets trying to find everyone we know who is sleeping rough, but we also ask that all other homelessness organisations and members of the public are vigilant and encourage anyone they see on the street to go to the meeting points at St Stephen’s Church in Bournemouth and United Reform Church in Poole at 8:30pm, and remember that doors close at 10pm.Well behaved dogs are welcome too.”

Councillor Kieron Wilson, Cabinet Member for Housing, BCP Council said:

“Rough sleeping is always dangerous, but during winter weather it is especially harmful as conditions can threaten the safety and wellbeing of people who are sleeping rough. No one should have to sleep rough, especially in temperatures as low as those forecast this weekend.

“We would urge anyone outside to seek shelter and come into the warmth where they can receive support. If you have any concerns about someone rough sleeping during the severe weather, please call the St Mungo’s outreach team on 01202 315962.”