Skip to content

Severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP)

Over the winter months emergency beds are made available for rough sleepers during the very cold weather – this is part of our severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP). This is activated when extreme weather – such as cold snaps or heatwaves – means there is a risk to life for those without adequate shelter.

But our work doesn’t stop when the weather stabilises. Our housing needs team works very proactively, always aiming to intervene early on to help people who are at risk. We also provide a rapid response and a specialist outreach service as well as individual caseworkers to offer ongoing support.

Our ‘housing first’ approach’ is available all year round for people in need. We work with people who are rough sleeping, who often have complex needs, to try and support them into long term accommodation.

Year-round homeless support

‘Homeless’ is often associated with a person rough sleeping but it’s a broader term.  The term ‘homeless’ covers people who have no accommodation – but also people in other situations for example where they have a place to live but they can’t access it, or where they have been placed in temporary accommodation.

When someone is registered with the council as needing homeless support, our housing team assigns them a case worker to work with them closely to ensure they get all the care and support they need.

If you see someone sleeping rough, or you are homeless and in an emergency situation you can call our housing needs team on 01235 422 410, or go to Streetlink’s website

Our teams work hard to ensure they get all the care and support they need. We will attend and speak to the person. Sometimes we will attend multiple times until the person accepts emergency accommodation.

For more details on support available see our housing web pages.

More about SWEP

The council activates a severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) during freezing weather. SWEP is emergency accommodation for anyone experiencing rough sleeping – including people who have no right to claim benefits or housing in the UK or who have refused offers of accommodation and support.  

The council will activate SWEP on every night the Met Office forecasts freezing overnight temperatures. It will also use its discretion to open emergency beds in other severe weather conditions.  

These can include snow on the ground, sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperatures or a warmer night in the middle of a prolonged freezing spell.