West Berkshire Council

Support for rough sleepers ahead of cold weather

West Berkshire Council has activated its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

2017 ING STOCK SHOT Ice on windscreen

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated ahead of the freezing conditions expected in the area in the coming days.

The council initially implemented this SWEP, which exceeds the statutory obligations placed on local authorities some years ago to ensure that the district's most vulnerable residents are given the support they need throughout the cold weather period.

As a result of this protocol, rough sleepers are able to access warm, safe accommodation, either at Two Saints or elsewhere depending on demand, as well as wider support and advice where appropriate. This targeted intervention helps the small number of people who are not normally eligible for services, choose to sleep rough or have previously refused support from housing services.

This winter West Berkshire Council first activated its severe weather plan on 28 November 2017 and it has been in place for the majority of the time since.

Supporting rough sleepers during adverse weather is part of a much broader programme of activity to tackle homelessness in the district. West Berkshire Council's housing team works alongside a number of local partners year-round to prevent people becomig homeless in the first place as well as offering help and support when it does occur - including through its 'No Second Night Out' policy to help people find emergency accommodation. 

The strength of the local partnership, and its commitment to tackling homelessness, meant West Berkshire was one of only 25 districts to be part of a new Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) scheme. The scheme helps develop coordinated, effective support for people experiencing multiple needs and has seen significant results in the areas where it has already been piloted. Together, partners fund a MEAM officer who is working with a small cohort of people with the most complex needs, including some sleeping rough in the area.

Cllr Hilary Cole, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness said:

"Throughout the year the council is working extremely hard to reduce homelessness and support people who sleep rough. We're absolutely committed to ensuring that no one has to sleep outside; it is one of our priorities. This becomes even more important when it is extremely cold as it is now. West Berkshire Council's severe weather emergency protocol will remain active for as long as necessary to make sure that all rough sleepers who want a warm, safe place are found somewhere to stay.


"People become homeless for many reasons but when they do it's important they know that help is available to get them back on their feet. They do not have to do it alone as there are many services locally to listen to them, encourage them and give them practical support to begin rebuilding their lives. I would encourage anyone who needs help, or knows someone who needs help, to get in touch with the council's housing team."


Anyone without anywhere to stay tonight should visit West Berkshire Council's offices in Market Street, Newbury for support. Anyone who becomes homeless when the offices are closed should contact the council's Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786543.


More information on Homelessness Help and Prevention.