Central location for cold weather shelter
Overnight shelter is provided in extreme weather for all people who are sleeping rough, most often during the cold winter months.
This winter, the SWEP (severe weather emergency protocol) shelter is running from a new central location. Wagner Hall on West Street became the main SWEP venue from Saturday 1 December.
The shelter is opened when weather poses an extreme risk to people being outside. It provides overnight shelter which complements day provision for those in need.
Cllr Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “Wagner Hall is an excellent SWEP venue and we’re very grateful to St Paul’s Church for working with us on arranging the shelter to be set up in such a useful location. This winter’s SWEP has a lower trigger for opening than ever before and additional support from outreach workers. This is another example of new ways in which we are focusing our resources to help people in need on our streets.
“We know that the services we have introduced are making a huge difference in helping people. Our regular updates from partners inform us that the numbers of people sleeping rough are reducing in our city. But there are still many vulnerable people who need support in moving away from rough sleeping and we are determined to do all we can to help.
"At the same time, we urge people not to come to Brighton & Hove without having accommodation arranged. There is a housing crisis. Our city has very little accommodation available and we are doing all we can to meet the needs of people living here who need a place to stay. ”
The trigger for opening the shelter is lower than most other SWEPs in the country. The local SWEP shelter opens when a 'feels like 0 degrees' temperature is forecast by the Met Office and also takes into account windchill. The shelter can also open throughout the year to respond to the impact of severe rain, snow and wind. The shelter opens when the Met Office issues an amber weather warning and shelter is needed from the elements. This can happen when the temperatures are above freezing.
When SWEP is announced as open, outreach workers go out right away onto the streets to talk to people sleeping rough and advise them there is shelter available that night. The shelter is open from 6.30pm to 8am in the morning, when day services begin to operate.
This winter outreach workers will provide additional support during the night. An outreach worker will be based at SWEP ready to alert colleagues if someone known to the service has not arrived for shelter. A pair of outreach workers will be out and about to find people who have not come in from the cold.
No one is turned away. Dogs are also allowed in the shelter. If Wagner Hall reaches capacity, other venues are provided to meet the demand.
The colder weather shelter is part of a range of services provided to help people who are rough sleeping.
Updates about when SWEP is open are on our website along with details about our other support for rough sleepers, including night shelter services, a rough sleeping hub and the street outreach team.
How to help
If anyone is worried about a rough sleeper, the details can be shared with StreetLink and outreach workers will be given the information to help the person in need.
Make Change Count
At this time of year, charities supporting people who are rough sleeping are in particular need of additional resources to carry out their vital work. When people who are rough sleeping receive help from support workers they have the best chance of moving into a better situation. A donation to Make Change Count provides essential funds for eight local charities working directly with people who are rough sleeping or homeless in Brighton & Hove.