Homeless or at risk of being homeless

Help for rough sleepers in severe weather

When it is very cold during December and March, Watford Borough Council will arrange for accommodation and support for rough sleepers in the borough. This includes rough sleepers who do not have recourse to public funds.

Very cold means when the Met Office says temperatures are going to be zero degrees Celsius (0oC) or below for at least one night in Watford. Things like wind chill, rain and snow will be taken into account too.    

Each rough sleeper accommodated will have their own self-contained room, usually in a hotel, so they can be safe from catching Covid-19. The accommodation will be there for as long as the weather stays very cold. 

When the Met Office says temperatures will go below zero degrees Celsius, the council will start its severe weather actions (known as SWEP, which is short for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) by:

  • emailing all its partners to let them know that they can refer people they know are sleeping rough to the council for accommodation. They can do this by using the referral form.   
  • putting information on its website and via social media
  • asking the Street Outreach Service based at New Hope to quickly contact rough sleepers, let the council know about them and go with them to the accommodation that has been booked.
  • Organising accommodation

While in accommodation, the Street Outreach Service will work with rough sleepers to find out their needs.  They will also help them make a homeless application to the council or their home local authority.  Finally, they will help them to find a place they can move on to rather than going back to sleeping on the streets.  A place to move on to could be either a room in a hostel where there is support to help with problems such as mental health, substance misuse, or disability, or to live by themselves, usually in a private rented home. 

The council's Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) (PDF 541KB) and the Referral Form (DOCX 43KB).

Queries about anything on this page about severe weather actions can be emailed to SWEP@watford.gov.uk.

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