After the SWEP - what next for 25 rough sleepers after temporary accommodation ends?


Keziah and Sara from the Outreach Team at HARP
Keziah and Sara from the Outreach Team at HARP

Last week, during the record breaking summer temperatures, a final total of 25 people who had been sleeping rough in Southend were housed in temporary accommodation.


This was achieved through partnership working involving HARP, Southend-on-Sea City Council, and other local homelessness agencies and charities.


The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, or SWEP, is introduced when extreme high or low temperatures are forecast for three or more days, and additional emergency funding is provided to quickly house people to keep them safe.


But what happens when the SWEP ends?


We spoke to our amazing Outreach Team to find out more about the important work that was made possible due to the weather conditions, and how they are hoping to build on this in the future to secure more permanent housing solutions for some of the clients who were helped.


At HARP, whilst we know that the SWEP is a vital emergency tool to keep people safe in extreme conditions, we also recognise that it can be a fantastic opportunity to engage with clients who can be difficult to reach in normal times.


James Brittain, Outreach Worker at HARP, explains: “During the SWEP, we’re able to do intensive work with the rough sleepers while they are in temporary accommodation. Last week, all the individuals were able to see Edel Spruce, NHS Advanced Nurse Practitioner, to discuss their physical health needs, and appointments with Mental Health Professionals from the Mental Health Rough Sleeper Team were also made.”


While the clients are in the safe, comfortable environment of the temporary accommodation, our team are able to explore further housing options once the SWEP comes to an end.


Sara Pental, also part of HARP’s Outreach Team, said: “the clients had access to the Southend-on-Sea City Council Rough Sleeping Navigators to have specialist advice and guidance with regards to their specific housing needs. Others have since visited HARP to have their needs assessed, and we very much hope to accommodate some of these people in the near future.”


Based on a needs assessment, some of the people temporarily housed under the SWEP were placed in further temporary housing.


Keziah Cussen, HARP's Acting Outreach Coordinator, said: “Five people have been placed in temporary housing following their stay in SWEP accommodation, which is funded by Southend-on-Sea City Council. These individuals’ needs were identified in regards to their vulnerabilities, complexities and physical health needs, which has allowed us to work with them further, alongside other agencies, to support their journey towards finding suitable housing.”


But what of those people who weren’t granted an extension beyond the SWEP?


Sadly, some did return to the streets, but HARP’s Outreach Team are still actively engaging with many of them, continuing to provide support and build trust, which are the vital building blocks in the journey towards overcoming homelessness for good.


Keziah explains: “We are in regular contact with the individuals who are currently sleeping rough, and continue to work with them intensely to ensure they are receiving a high standard of support, and to explore housing options that may be available to them in the community. Our Outreach Team visit people in the community, and we welcome people every day to the Bradbury Centre to keep regular engagement, provide support with paperwork and benefits, and build on small successes, with the ultimate aim of finding secure housing in the near future.”


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