Over 50 places offered by Council to vulnerable homeless people during first week of sub-zero nights.
High numbers of rough sleepers and the homeless in Milton Keynes are successfully being placed in emergency accommodation during the current freezing temperatures. Since Thursday 7th December when the national Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) was enacted, over 50 people have been offered accommodation including hostel places and shared accommodation.
The Council is working above the legal requirement for the emergency protocol and helping more people by working on the ‘feels like’ temperature; incorporating the wind-chill factor into the temperature readings, rather than just the air temperature.
Outreach teams are also currently contacting everyone that has been placed to ensure that they go to the Winter Night Shelter for a further assessment and help once the minus temperatures end, currently due to be into next week.
There are approximately 80 known rough sleepers in MK right now, although this figure varies week to week and has risen from just six people in 2012.
With arrangements in place to make sure every rough sleeper in MK has the opportunity for an emergency place when the weather is at its worst, Councillor Nigel Long, cabinet member with responsibility for homelessness, praised the work of everyone involved:
“Living on the streets can be isolating, and affects people’s health. Winter conditions can make it even harder. Our housing and homelessness teams are working incredibly hard with partners to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to have access to shelter if they’re at risk during severe cold weather.“
During SWEP conditions, rough sleepers can find emergency shelter by visiting the Civic Offices, by their usual homelessness support contacts, or via the street outreach team.
Cllr Long concluded, “Whilst I am pleased that Labour led Milton Keynes Council is doing its best to help rough sleepers over this cold period. It is the case that we also have nearly 700 families in temporary accommodation. Over 1000 children will not have a home over Christmas. The only serious long term solution for families in temporary accommodation is the provision of secure, affordable housing. For rough sleepers the solution has to be housing with support and help to access training and work. Without a change of Government; building enough new homes or helping provide specialist accommodation and support for rough sleepers is not going to happen. “