27 March 2013
Update: A pan-London emergency shelter run by St Mungo's and funded by the Mayor of London has been reopened for a record fifth time this winter to offer a lifeline to rough sleepers in the capital during the freezing weather.
When the weather is predicted to drop below zero degrees centigrade for three consecutive nights, local authorities work with housing providers on severe weather emergency provision (SWEP). St Mungo's works with local partners to provide emergency provision through outreach work and beds are set up in communal areas in existing hostels within local boroughs.
Where additional help is needed, St Mungo's works with the GLA to open a pan-London emergency shelter. The shelter offers an emergency bed, a hot shower, clean clothes, and hot food whilst St Mungo's works to find, where possible, more permanent accommodation or move on options for people accessing the service.
Mike McCall, Executive Director of Operations at St Mungo's, said: "SWEP beds offer a vital life line for the extremely vulnerable living on the streets during these freezing nights. As temperatures drop, there is a real danger that people will lose their lives if they sleep outside.
"Our workers will be out on the streets, making contact with rough sleepers who really need a roof over their head. We are committed with our partners in the voluntary sector, central and local government to making sure that no one is out in such cold weather."
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'As temperatures plummet this shelter will offer people a warm, safe place where they can get help to make a life away from the streets. No one should have to sleep rough in freezing conditions like these and so I'm delighted to support St Mungo's and the vital service it is offering people at this time of year."
If you are concerned about a rough sleeper: