Today, Friday 26.11.21, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has activated its SWEP protocol. STEP stands for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol and is the mechanism used to reduce deaths on our streets during severe weather. Tonight the weather is freezing and it will be for next few days.
Tonight outreach workers across London will be taking to the streets to encourage people to access emergency accommodation. Below is the GLA guidance that has released today, it is been updated to include Covid measures.
Without asking the person sleeping on the street directly, should we decide what support they should have?
A friend lived in Park Hill Park in Croydon for weeks before any outreach support came to get him the appropriate support. When we were younger he told me he had a safe group of bushes that he would bed down in. We didn’t know that there was any other support available, the council had refused to support him as he wasn’t considered vulnerable enough. If you are never told that there are other options, you accept the one you are presented with. Eventually he received support due to someone intervening and is now in suitable accommodation he pays for monthly. Not everyones journey will be the same as my friend and many will be forced to stay on the street.
Your local authority has a duty to reduce homelessness. It is really important that people get proper advice to know what their options are. Over the summer Claudia from South West London Law Centre spoke to Frisky DJ to highlight some of the issues people experiencing homelessness are facing and reiterates that local authorities have a duty towards people facing homelessness.
No one should be forced into accommodation.
No one should be forced into the streets.
On the 26th of March 2020 Robert Jenrick MP (the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) announced the Government programme Everybody In. At the start of the pandemic we were shown what can be done where there is political will. Everybody In saw around 38,000 people experiencing homelessness across the country offered hotel accommodation. It lasted only 90 days.
Tonight as temperatures reach freezing point hotel accommodation will once again be offered to 1000s of people in London in need of accommodation. This will only be offered during the freezing nights and until Monday. Many people are promoting use of Street Link tonight. Street Link is a platform that streamlines reports of someone sleeping rough onto the relevant local authority.
Without asking someone directly if they would like you to report them, should you?
Each local authority has their own response to SWEP and the Museum of Homelessness tweeted this afternoon:
If you have checked with the person that a StreetLink referral is wanted, here is how to do it: