Help for vulnerable tenants and homeless in Hounslow as temperatures drop

With icy temperatures forecast this week, life on the streets of Hounslow is set to get that bit harder for our vulnerable tenants and the homeless.

Published: Thursday, 1st March 2018

homeless person

With icy temperatures forecast this week, life on the streets of Hounslow is set to get that bit harder for our vulnerable tenants and the homeless.

Intense cold weather dubbed the “Beast from the East” has reached the UK, with temperatures dipping below freezing throughout the week. This extreme weather means the risks faced by rough sleepers are even greater and potentially deadly for some as they spend the night outside. Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness, which is an emergency all year round, but in winter and cold weather people can be in even greater danger.

For the homeless, including rough sleepers within the borough, Hounslow Council has special measures in place called the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) plan, which supports those sleeping rough on the streets, should we have sub-zero temperatures.

The SWEP plan aims to prevent death on our streets, allows us to engage with those who have previously declined support and is an extension to our existing services. The SWEP also allows the council to deliver extended winter provisions such as night shelters that provide a warm, safe place to sleep for some of the most vulnerable people that are sleeping rough on our streets. 

The Shelter Project Hounslow (TSPH) is a joint churches initiative in Hounslow, running winter night shelters for homeless men in the coldest months. It operates a rolling shelter model whereby rough sleepers access a different church venue each night of the week from December to March inclusive, providing accommodation and hot food for up to fourteen male guests every night.

As the weather drops below sub-zero temperatures, the church opens its doors to a further five rough sleepers.  All guests who stay at the shelters are given bedding, basic toiletries and are offered a cooked main evening meal as well as breakfast in the mornings.

The council has also commissioned, the Hounslow Street Outreach Team (HSOT) to locate and support rough sleepers across the borough, signposting them to the necessary support services and assisting them off the streets. The team also supports first time rough sleepers to access emergency shelter through No Second Night Out (NSNO), which provides an offer to ensure that they do not have to sleep out for a second night.

For our vulnerable tenants - council officers are also  making regular contact with vulnerable tenants to ensure they are safe and warm and can deal with the expected snow and sub-zero temperatures.  Residents who live in our over 60 council sheltered units receive a daily visit during the week from their scheme manager to check on their welfare and all have alarms directly linked to Linkline+ service who they can alert 24/7, 365 days a year if there is any issue with their heating or any other emergency. 

Residents within the borough who receive the Linkline+ service can contact Linkline via their emergency alarm unit if they have any concerns about the temperature in their home.  Or any vulnerable resident can phone the out of hours emergency service on 020 8583 2222 if they have any emergency with their heating and the out of hours service who will advise what can be done.

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Housing, Hounslow Council, said:

“We have plans in place to make sure we have support in place for those who may need it.

"Council officers are making contact with vulnerable tenants to ensure they are safe and warm and can deal with the expected snow and sub-zero temperatures.

"The Hounslow Street Outreach Team locates rough sleepers and supports them to get off the street and access essential services.

"As a council we are committed to help people who are most vulnerable during this severe weather.”

Across London, when the temperatures are freezing or below for just one night, St Mungo’s run the Mayor’s provision to support even more people inside when local provision is full, offering a hot shower, clean clothes, and hot food as well as an emergency bed, while staff work to find them more permanent options.  Rough sleepers are also actively encouraged to access local facilities that are open during the day and can be referred to additional daytime SWEP provision when daytime temperatures remain below zero.     

If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough, please report them online at www.streetlink.org.uk  or download the app to refer someone http://streetlink.org.uk you can even call 0300 500 091 or 999 in the case of an emergency.

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