Mayor of London invests in homeless accommodation as temperatures drop

More than £800,000 has been invested in new homeless accommodation at a hotel in East London, as part of the Mayor of London’s strategy to get rough sleepers off the streets during the coldest days of winter.

The hotel, operated by St Mungo’s, will open when the Mayor activates his Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

When temperatures anywhere in London are forecast to drop below zero degrees, SWEP compels councils to open emergency accommodation for people who are sleeping rough.

While London’s boroughs will be providing over 500 SWEP beds this winter, the new hotel will act as overflow accommodation, providing a further 66 rooms for rough sleepers across London.

London Bridge, London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: ‘Since becoming Mayor, I have made tackling rough sleeping a personal priority and we are finally starting to see sustained results with the number of rough sleepers falling in recent years – but there is still much to do. From City Hall and across London we are doing everything we can with the resources at our disposal to keep rough sleepers safe, especially during freezing conditions.

‘This extra SWEP space will ensure that dozens more rough sleepers will receive warm, secure accommodation when temperatures drop, and thanks to the ‘In For Good’ principle we know they will be housed until a plan to end their rough sleeping is in place. The work of Streetlink is also vital in ensuring people sleeping rough spend as little time as possible on the streets of London and are helped to find a route out of homelessness by our hard-working outreach teams. No one should have to sleep rough this winter.’

Hannah Faulkner, St Mungo’s Head of Rough Sleeper Services, who co-ordinates the pan-London SWEP provision, said: ‘St Mungo’s works tirelessly throughout the year – alongside the GLA, local councils and StreetLink – to ensure that anyone who is sleeping rough can get they help and support they need.

‘Being street homeless is harmful and dangerous at any time. However, when the temperatures fall it can become life-threatening. This winter we are again facing the dual threat of cold weather and Covid-19. And the need to find suitable Covid-secure accommodation, where people can be safe from both, has been paramount. The additional capacity provided by this investment will hopefully mean that no one will have to sleep out in freezing conditions and will be able to access the help and support needed to move off the streets for good.’

In related news, a new winter campaign to help rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless has been launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Birmingham City Council.

Photo by Robert Bye


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