The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has activated the pan-London Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP) from tonight until Monday 11 January in order to protect homeless people as
temperatures are forecast to fall below 0°C across London for the next few days.
The activation of SWEP compels councils across London (in association with homelessness charities) to open emergency accommodation for people who are sleeping rough during the worst weather conditions. This is the third time SWEP has been activated this winter (a total of 10 days by the end of the current period).
This year, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have made running severe weather shelters more difficult as they had previously been run with communal sleeping arrangements. Because of the increased risk of Covid transmission in these settings, the Mayor believes that only self-contained accommodation such as hotel rooms should be used for SWEP provision this winter.
Shared sleeping spaces should be considered by local authorities only as a last resort, when all options to provide self-contained rooms have been exhausted. This could be avoided if the Government increased funding to the Greater London Authority and boroughs during sustained periods of cold weather to provide self-contained accommodation throughout the winter.
Despite the economic impact of the latest lockdown, Londoners have continued to demonstrate their generosity by donating more than £30,000 to the Mayor’s Winter Rough Sleeping campaign in its first three weeks.
These funds will directly benefit young Londoners affected by the pandemic with instability, lack of opportunities and unstable employment forcing hundreds into homelessness for the first time. Funds will be split between four charities working with young homeless Londoners: Depaul, akt, Centrepoint and New Horizons Youth Centre.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I would like to thank everyone who has donated to our campaign so far. These funds will make a significant impact on the lives of young Londoners facing homelessness this winter.
“Local authorities, charities and others supporting homeless people across London have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as temperatures fall this week.
“But it is a simple fact that Covid-secure accommodation costs more than traditional shelter space, so the Government must supply appropriate funding as a matter of urgency to ensure nobody is left on the streets during freezing conditions.”