Emergency shelter to open every weekend


An emergency shelter for rough sleepers will open  at weekends to plug gaps in services.

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, known as SWEP is triggered when there are severe weather warnings and the temperature drops to a “feels like” freezing level.

The open drop in service for up to 35 rough sleepers is currently operating out of Brighton Town Hall in Bartholomew Square, until a more suitable venue is found.

By opening at weekends, Brighton and Hove City Council would provide a service to fill gaps when day centres are not open.

It is one of a number of council-run services for rough sleepers ranging from the No Second Night Out Hub to the year-round night shelter.

Executive director for health and adult social care Rob Pursey told members opening at weekends will help the authority in its work to build relationships and support for rough sleepers.

Council leader, Labour councillor Nancy Platts said the move would help get rough sleepers on a path to secure living.

She said: “Our ultimate ambition is to have no one sleeping rough on the streets.

“At weekends there is no daytime provision, so people are our for 48 hours or more without being able to go indoors.”

She thanked officers for working on setting up the changes and the volunteers for staffing the service.

Green councillor David Gibson was positive about the open access nature of SWEP as he hoped it would help council support services to work with rough sleepers to help them off the streets.

He said: “When there was a rough sleeper camp last year, quite a high proportion of people sleeping on the streets were not known to us and therefore could not be referred to a service.

“There are some people out there that are missing. If there is space and it becomes well known it’s open at weekend then more people will be known and can access services.”

Conservative group leader councillor Steve Bell described the move as “good news”.

He said: “We all know there is a lot more to do. All of us are striving together to see the end of rough sleeping and homelessness.

“We should celebrate this, we are doing something to help people who need it. It’s a good step forward.”

Labour’s finance lead councillor Daniel Yates told the committee an extra £35,000 will go towards the service this year and an extra £50,000 worked out the additional cost of the scheme for the next financial year, on top of the £90,000 budget.

He said: “Over the last few years we have seen a significant expansion in our direct services for providing emergency forms of shelter for those most at risk.

“I think this is where one of our priorities need to be. It’s good to see we are all sitting down and putting our money where our mouth is and supporting the things are going to deal with the most vulnerable in society.”

Labour lead for homelessness councillor Nichola Brennan was delighted by the news.

She said: “This will provide consistency and protection at the weekends when we have less services for the vulnerable rough sleepers.

“We are seeing greater numbers at SWEP each week so this is more justifiable then ever.

“It was good to see we had cross party support regarding this humanitarian situation.”

Green councillor Sue Shanks asked if a better location other than Brighton Town Hall was found and Mr Pursey said the authority is looking for an alternative.

 

  1. TP Reply

    The council does own quite a large property portfolio I’m sure there is some vacant commercial space that could be used for shelter.

  2. Alexander Breyley Reply

    After just speaking to a BHT worker at SWEP tonight I was told that SWEP will not be open every weekend. It was open during the day last Sunday and will be open again during the day this Sunday (16th Feb). I was told “This was a decision made by the council because of an amber weather warning. It will will only be open following an amber weather warning.”

  3. Terry Wing Reply

    SWEP is operational Sunday 16 February also. I work at one of the sleeping reception centres.

    Currently SWEP operates out of 3 establishments until a suitable single establishment is identified.

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