Poole Outreach Support Team are looking to the residents of Poole for help to provide the vital Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) service to the vulnerable people of their community this winter.
The harsh conditions of winter, especially the extreme cold temperatures, can be dangerous for everyone. Even in a ‘normal’ winter it is estimated that over 25,000 people die as a direct result of the cold temperatures.
To help more vulnerable people shelter from the elements during winter, local authorities are responsible for providing a SWEP. SWEP provides emergency accommodation for rough sleepers when the temperature drops below zero for three consecutive nights or more.
The SWEP service in Poole is being delivered this year through a partnership between Borough of Poole’s Housing and Community Services and the Poole Outreach Support Team (POST), managed by BCHA and consisting of staff from both BCHA and Routes to Roots.
The service will be provided within a church hall, which will open its doors to homeless people on freezing cold nights, offering people shelter, a mattress, warm bedding and a hot nutritious meal. There will also be support workers on site to engage with service users, helping them to work through some of the issues they have, and together with Housing and Community Services, help them to find a more permanent solution to their problems and access the right services to find a way forward with their life.
Councillor Peter Adams, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Borough of Poole, said: "This provision is a great example of the council and other agencies working together. Providing emergency accommodation in severe weather will bring welcome relief to those sleeping rough and can mean the difference between life and death. The generous donations of residents both in money and time help keep this vital service going and I hope these will continue."
Sarah Ward, Homelessness and Substance Misuse Manager, BCHA, said: "BCHA are pleased to be working in partnership with Borough of Poole and Routes to Roots to deliver this vital service and ensure that no one is sleeping on the streets of Poole if the temperatures fall below zero this winter.
"The Poole Outreach Support Team will be engaging with individuals who are rough sleeping to make sure that they are able to access warm, safe accommodation options during severe winter weather and then working with them to prevent them from returning to the streets. SWEP provides a great opportunity for a number of agencies to work together to stop rough sleeping in Poole."
Volunteers are required to help keep this vital service running. People are needed to make the beds each day, heat and serve the meals and make people feel comfortable. Alternatively, people can help by donating money to fund the essential items needed to run this service, such as mattresses, bedding and food by texting BCHA04 £1/£2/£5/£10 to 70070 (e.g. BCHA04 £5) to donate.
For the past two years the SWEP service has been a huge success and has no doubt saved the lives of many people, helping individuals to address the reasons they became homeless and help them to find accommodation solutions. One such individual is Steven. Steven had been living in his car, with his dog, for about a year, travelling between Wareham and Poole. He became homeless after a disagreement with his landlord, his mental health deteriorated and at times he got so low that, if it wasn’t for his dog, he would have committed suicide.
Steven approached the SWEP service in the winter of 2010. SWEP were able to sign post Steven to services including the Essential Drugs and Alcohol Service to help him address his problems. Steven and his dog were immediately able to access temporary accommodation in order to shelter from the harsh conditions. Two months later he moved in to permanent accommodation and continued to address his problems. He now has a full time job, working with animals on a farm, and is looking forward to the future.
If anyone would like to learn more about volunteering or would like to donate money in an alternative way, then please call BCHA on 01202 410500.