Working with local homelessness charity New Hope, Watford Borough Council has upgraded the town’s cold weather shelter programme this December and January for Watford’s homeless
Working with local homelessness charity New Hope, Watford Borough Council has upgraded the town’s cold weather shelter programme this December and January for Watford’s homeless. With the support of local churches, New Hope, which is funded by the council and supported by donations from the local community, is providing 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 homeless people every single night in December and January, no matter what the temperature.
Every person who has wanted and needed a bed has been given a safe, warm place to stay, with around 15 people requesting shelter each evening.
The council contributed an additional £10,000 to help New Hope run the initiative. Each night there is a paid member of staff on duty and three volunteers: two volunteers spend the night with those seeking shelter, while one volunteer helps with settling shelter users in for the night. Altogether, there are 60 amazing volunteers helping New Hope to run the night shelter.
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “We are working very closely with the homeless charity New Hope and local churches to put a roof over the head people who would otherwise be sleeping rough in Watford this winter. Since SWEP+ started, no one in need of shelter has been turned away. This service not only provides a bed for the night, but also offers kindness and understanding, which is so important especially at this time of year. We will continue to do everything we can to support those sleeping rough in our town. I hope that this could be the first step on the road to a new life for someone experiencing homelessness.”
Chief Executive of New Hope Matthew Heasman said: “The winter night shelter, SWEP+, is a vital provision at this time of year. It’s a real community effort with over 60 individuals volunteering their time and schools, churches, synagogues and members of the public donating food items. We are so thankful for the partnership with Watford Borough Council and local churches who are enabling New Hope to run this essential service.“
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.