Emergency shelters open for rough sleepers

published on 19 Jan 2024

The Salvation Army is working with councils to provide emergency beds and outreach support to prevent people from freezing to death on the streets during this extremely cold weather. 

Emergency beds are open in locations across England and Wales to help rough sleepers to stay warm this winter as part of the national warning system known as the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). 

The SWEP is triggered when temperatures drop to zero or below, or weather conditions deteriorate drastically – making it extremely hazardous for rough sleepers. 

The Salvation Army’s Assistant Territorial Director for Homelessness, Malcolm Page, said: 

“We’re really concerned that in too many areas and regions of the UK more people than ever will be forced to sleep rough this winter. At The Salvation Army, we’re maximising any available space within our homeless Lifehouses to create safe, warm environments which can be accessed by people who remain on the streets. 

“There will also be many of our community churches whose doors are open to offer practical support such as hot food, clothing and a friendly face - as well as wider support and signposting to specialist services and provision. 

“With snow and ice in many areas, The Salvation Army and other outreach charities will be checking in on rough sleepers, but our teams can’t be everywhere at once. We ask the public to also look out for rough sleepers and contact Streetlink - https://thestreetlink.org.uk/ - to let them know their location. If someone is in immediate danger, or if the person is under 18 years old, call 999.” 

Examples of how The Salvation Army is helping rough sleepers in England and Wales: 

· In York we provide a drop-in service for rough sleepers, a safe, warm space where people can watch TV, grab some food, and access support services 

· Across our homeless outreach services in Newport and Cardiff we are providing winter boots, hats, scarves, gloves, and coats for rough sleepers 

· In the North west of England our larger hostels maximise their capacity to offer emergency beds, with Blackburn providing up to 10 emergency beds all year round. 

· Our Riverside hostel in London has emergency provision for women who are rough sleeping 

 Every Salvation Army serves its local community in a different way. To find out what your nearest Salvation Army is offering locally, visit: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/map-page 

A woman in a Salvation Army polo shirt, comforting a woman drinking a hot drink.

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