For the first time this year, the Mayor of London is opening emergency cold weather shelters across the capital as temperatures are set to hit zero or below in several London boroughs tonight and over the weekend.
The Mayor, London boroughs, service providers and faith and community groups work together to open severe weather shelters across London when freezing temperatures are forecast anywhere in the capital. Previously, shelters were only opened when temperatures were zero or below for three consecutive days in a row and also on a borough-by-borough basis, leading to patchy, inconsistent provision. Sadiq changed the criteria so shelters were open more readily with better provision and coverage.
Londoners concerned about someone they have seen sleeping rough can use the StreetLink website (https://www.streetlink.org.uk/) or app to send an alert. The details provided are sent to the local authority or outreach service for the area in which the individual has been seen, to help outreach workers find them and connect them to support.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “This weekend’s freezing temperatures put some of our most vulnerable Londoners at risk.
“That’s why I’m working with councils and charities across London to make sure emergency shelters are open and available to everyone who needs them.
“This is just one of the many initiatives being undertaken by City Hall to help London’s homeless people but it’s clear more needs to be done. Ministers now must wake up to this issue with a proper plan of action rather than the empty promises of the last decade.”
Last year, 8,855 people were seen sleeping rough on the streets of London by outreach workers – more than double the number in 2010/11. Since becoming Mayor, Sadiq has made tackling rough sleeping in London one of his top priorities. Last year he announced that he was doubling his rough sleeping budget to £19.2m. This includes £2.2m to fund 300 extra bed spaces across London through his Life Off the Streets Winter Programme which opened at the start of January and will stay open continuously throughout the coldest months of the year
The Mayor launched his winter rough sleeping campaign last month, raising funds for the London Homeless Collective. Generous Londoners have already donated more than £50,000 in the first month of this winter’s campaign via TAP London contactless donation points and the campaign’s GoFundMe page (details below). They have also used the Streetlink app and Streetlink London website 3,294 times to refer people sleeping rough to outreach services.