Helping rough sleepers

Folkestone & Hythe District Council is stepping up the way it provides emergency accommodation to rough sleepers this winter.

Under the council's Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) it will offer accommodation when temperatures drop below freezing for a single night or if there are extenuating factors like severe wind-chill, snow or rain.

Cllr Alan Ewart-James, Cabinet Member for Housing, told colleagues on Wednesday that government advised activating the protocol if extreme weather was predicted on three consecutive nights - and this is what the council had done in the past.

However, this year, we will pilot activating our SWEP, for a single night. Our Housing Options Team will continue to be responsible for checking the weather forecast every day before 11am, when severe weather is predicted. Cllr Alan Ewart-James, Cabinet Member for Housing

As well as operating its SWEP to help rough sleepers, the council contributes £20,000 every year to the Rainbow Centre - of which £10,000 is earmarked for the Folkestone Churches Winter Shelter.

It also gives £40,000 a year to Porchlight - a local homeless charity - to fund a Rough Sleeper Outreach Worker, who talks to rough sleepers, finds out what support they need and helps them access services to address the issues that are a barrier to getting and keeping long-term housing

The council has also set aside £15,000 for the Multi-Agency Rough Sleeper Service (MARSS), a partnership that brings together local support groups like mental health services, alcohol and drug support services, the Rainbow Centre and Porchlight.

The aim is to work with entrenched rough sleepers to look at what support they need and provide as many as possible with accommodation. Cllr Alan Ewart-James

If you are concerned about a rough sleeper anytime, day or night, you can contact StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 who will pass the details on to local services to help the individual find the support they need.

Published on 30 November 2018