Helping rough sleepers keep cool as temperatures rocket

published on 19 Jul 2022

As summer temperatures hit record levels, The Salvation Army is stepping up to help rough sleepers, who are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke and other side effects of the dangerously hot weather.

Examples of our support include:

  • In York, our outreach team are handing out bottles of cold water and watermelon. People are also being invited to come and sit in the drop-in centre during the day to cool down.
  • Pottergate ARC (Advice and Refreshment Centre) in Norwich are giving out water and sun cream to rough sleepers.
  • At New Directions, the homeless hostel in Braintree, Essex, the team are giving drinks to homeless people and offering refreshing showers. The New Directions team started seeing rough sleepers seeking refuge from the heat as far back as mid-June.  Partners, including Essex Police and other homeless agencies, have sent people to New Directions when they have been in need.
  • In the Midlands, Sharon West, the Service Manager at Harnall Lifehouse in Coventry, said:  “We activated the Severe Weather Protocol (SWEP)  last week in partnership with Coventry City Council and other members of the Coventry Homelessness Forum.  We are handing out water and people can come to ‘Steps for Change’ drop in centre, where they can get refreshments and shelter out of the sun. Also, anyone can attend Harnall Lifehouse for water, food, shelter, we also provide sun cream protection."

The Salvation Army in Wales is also helping rough sleepers and homeless people affected by the heat.

Catherine Docherty, Assistant Regional Manager Wales & South West/Rheolwr Rhanbarthol Cynorthwryol – Cymru a ‘r De Orllewin, said:  "We are currently experiencing some of the hottest days on record here in Cardiff, which has a huge impact on all of us.

“Across services we are taking additional safety measures to ensure that we are best supporting our residents and the rough sleepers we encounter.

“The provision of sun cream, extra clothing, cold water and a space indoors are essential to combat the heat. We hope the next few days passes quickly and that everyone can enjoy the sunny weather safely."

Most (if not all) Local Authorities have activated SWEP for rough sleepers and those experiencing homelessness. If people need to access this support, they should make contact with their Local Authority directly.

Here are some general tips during the heatwave if someone sees a rough sleeper:

  • Offer bottles of water
  • Offer sun cream
  • Offer space to sit in the shade
  • If someone has health concerns or vulnerabilities please call 111 for health advice
  • In an emergency always call 999.


Salvation army worker sitting and speaking to another women

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