The reality of sleeping outside night after night is traumatic whenever it occurs, but is especially true during the winter, when extreme temperatures can kill.
When the weather is forecasted to be very cold for three consecutive nights, Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated. SPEAR in partnership with the Richmond local authority, is able to provide emergency accommodation for those with nowhere else to go.
The consequence of sleeping out in extreme weather is something SPEAR are particularly aware of as our work began after two men sleeping rough in Richmond during the winter died from exposure to the elements. SPEAR has organised and planned the logistics of SWEP, in order to be ready for a time when the temperatures drop to low levels and so that the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol- SWEP can be activated put into action problem free.
When SWEP is activated, the SPEAR Outreach team become even busier than normal as they try to make contact with the rough sleepers within the Borough of Richmond to let them know that they will have somewhere warm to sleep that night and give them provision of a warm meal and emergency shelter.
Being able to house rough sleepers in the hostel during this time not only means people have a safe and warm place to sleep during severe weather, but also gives SPEAR the opportunity to get to know them and help assess their needs for housing in the longer term.
Although accommodation in severe weather is important, SPEAR work all year round helping those threatened with homelessness and also to move people who are rough sleeping off of the streets permanently.
This winter, in order to help SPEAR prepare for ‘Severe Weather Emergency Protocol’ your donations are gratefully received to meet this human need. To find out more about how you can donate to SPEAR, then please visit our donation page