Working with local homelessness charity New Hope, Watford Borough Council is upgrading the town’s cold weather shelter programme for those sleeping rough in Watford.
Working with local homelessness charity New Hope, Watford Borough Council is upgrading the town’s cold weather shelter programme for those sleeping rough in Watford. With the support of local churches, New Hope, which is funded by the council and supported by donations from the local community, will provide emergency shelter for rough sleepers every night in December 2018 and January 2019.
The pilot initiative, called SWEP+, expands on Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). This comes into effect every winter, ensuring shelter is provided for people who are rough sleeping in Watford when temperatures dip below zero. But this year, the council and New Hope are going the extra mile and providing shelter for rough sleepers every night in December and January no matter what the temperature.
The council contributed an additional £10,000 to help New Hope run the initiative. Each night there will be a paid member of staff on duty and three volunteers: two volunteers will sleep over and one volunteer will assist during the evening with settling night shelter users in for the night.
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “I want to do all I can to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in our town. I’m really proud to be supporting the work that New Hope and our local churches do to put a roof over the head of those people sleeping rough in the cold weather. If you think you can join me to help volunteer in these shelters, please do get in touch with New Hope. Your help will make a big difference to people who are sleeping rough in our town.”
Chief Executive of New Hope Matthew Heasman said: “As the temperature drops, the work of New Hope takes on a fresh urgency. We are grateful for the partnership with Watford Borough Council and local churches who are enabling this vital provision this winter. Thanks must also go to the many volunteers who are going to be helping and to local schools, churches, synagogues and members of the public who have donated food items and clean clothes.”
New Hope has successfully recruited three paid members of staff and around 60 volunteers and is now looking for volunteers to do the sleepover shift on weekdays. If you would like to volunteer or to find out more, visit newhope.org.uk/volunteer
The council launched a campaign earlier this year to show how donations to homeless charities can change lives. Two short films talk about why donating directly to local charities rather than people on the street can have a bigger impact. Watch the films and find out more at watford.gov.uk/sparechange
If you do see someone sleeping rough, please call New Hope’s 24/7 helpline 0300 012 0168 or report their position with the Streetlink app on your mobile phone.