Wrexham Council have confirmed its Severe Weather Emergency Plan (SWEP) has been activated and that a new Homelessness Support Strategy will be introduced this year.
The SWEP, also known it seems as a protocol, procedure and plan (full PDF here) has the stated aim ‘to minimise the risk of damage to health or death as a result of overnight exposure to cold’.
Wrexham.com has asked Wrexham Council multiple times at times of recent cold weather if the plan had been activated, and if so what that has meant in practical terms. We also reported from a well heated Council meeting where previously it had been noted 9 people had been turned away from Tŷ Nos in December that a review had been planned. Speaking at December’s Executive Board, Lead Member for Housing, Cllr David Griffiths said the a review of the system was taking place to ensure similar situations didn’t take place again.
With the rules we cant take pictures and tweet them from the meeting, so couldnt show you the heaters. But we can view webcast in the meeting, then screengrab, then tweet that from inside meeting. Anyway, three of these heaters brought in to keep Cllrs warm. pic.twitter.com/FbYmh0lRz6
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) December 13, 2017
We asked multiple times over the progress of the review, querying if that review had an impact in how things are dealt with now, or if that is something Councillors will be looking at in the future.
We had been unofficially told by a few people inside the Council that the ‘SWEP’ had been activated over the weekend due to the then cold weather, however this seems not to be the case with the Council saying it had been put into operation on Monday.
A spokesperson for Wrexham Council has today told us: “We can confirm that our Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) was put into operation on the 26th February and will be continue to be active throughout the spell of bad weather.
“We are working closely with our partner organisations and emergency services to offer as much support as possible to rough sleepers during this time.
“We would urge anyone who is seeking support to contact our Homelessness Service on 01978 292947 (9.30am-4.30pm) or 01978 264240 (out of hours number).
A Wrexham Council spokesperson today added: “A review of our SWEP is currently ongoing. We will be updating our protocol and implementing a new Homelessness Support Strategy this year.
“One change we have already implemented is that we now trigger the SWEP on the first night of freezing/below freezing temperatures.”
Late on Sunday evening we were tweeted the following, after a local grassroots effort to help out was spotted:
— Povah (@Povdag) February 25, 2018
The tweet has been directly retweeted 167 times with several hundred likes – plus hundreds of supportive comments. It has also triggered various regional and national news stories covering the practical supportive nature of some in the area.
This bench at St Giles Church, Wrexham, is also one of the several sites in the town which have been draped with scarves, hats and jumpers, all labelled “Please take me”. They have been left this week by a team of outreach volunteers keen to help Wrexham’s growing number of homeless people.
The Vicar of St Giles, the Revd Dr Jason Bray, urged anyone suffering in the cold during the day to take shelter in the church itself.
He said, “Cold weather often brings out the best in a community, and this is an example of someone from Wrexham showing they care. Over the last few days, the church which is open, heated and lit all day, every day, has seen an increase in all sorts of people sheltering from the cold, so when they say they don’t have a scarf or a hat, we can point them in the right direction. We also keep a box of spare clothes in the church for those in need.”
Dee Davies of the Wrexham Homeless charity, said she and other volunteers left about 24 jumpers and scarves around lampposts and shop doors around Wrexham and were also giving more out directly to homeless people.
Top pic: Conditions in town late this afternoon.