HOMELESS people will be taken off the streets in Dorset and put in accommodation after Dorset Council activated emergency powers amid freezing weather conditions.
The emergency action is being taken after the Met Office issued a 20-hour weather warning for snow and ice in Dorset between 10am on Wednesday, December 30 until 6am on Thursday, December 31.
The weather forecaster has also issued a level two ‘alert and readiness’ warning, meaning there is a 60 per cent probability of freezing conditions in the south west.
As a result, Dorset Council has activated its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol in a bid to protect the welfare of homeless people and rough sleepers in its area and will be in place until temperatures increase.
Those rough sleeping are more vulnerable to becoming ill and frail over the festive period and Winter due to being exposed to harsh weather and cold conditions.
A spokeswoman for Dorset Council explained the measures: “We operate a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, this means if the weather is close to freezing for three nights we can place anyone who is homeless in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation.”
The protocol, set out by charity Homeless, sets out guidelines to local authorities about what they should do to support vulnerable people during cold periods.
In its latest measures for 2020, it acknowledges the coronavirus pandemic has affected its measures, including how “many of the accommodation options that have been previously used for SWEP and extended winter provision, are now deemed unsafe due to their communal nature.”
Its guide states: “Local authorities and their partners should make every effort to provide self-contained accommodation options for people sleeping rough this winter.
“Local authorities and public health must make it a priority to work alongside faith and community groups and homelessness charities to accommodate everyone safely, regardless of immigration status, previous housing experience and local connection.”
It adds that local authorities aim to use B&Bs, hotels, hostels, self-contained temporary accommodation, vacant council buildings and houses in multiple occupation.
Homeless advises councils to ensure accommodation has adequate facilities for washing, cooking, sleeping and storage of belongings, B&B and hotel staff are trained to deal with rough sleepers in order to create a ‘safe and welcoming environment’ and provide outreach and assessment to reduce the number of people.
Under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, homeless people will be given access to health facilities and relevant health services should be used to treat unwell people.
Anyone who sees anyone sleeping rough is advised to contact Streetlink or call 0300 5000914. For anyone under 18 years old or who is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999.