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London Mayor activates emergency severe weather plan as freeze hits Britain

© Will Kennard

The pan-London Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated for the first time this winter by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to protect the city’s homeless population as temperatures are expected to drop below zero overnight.

When SWEP is activated, councils in London and homeless charities open more emergency housing for people who are rough sleeping during weather conditions that could endanger their lives. The Mayor’s “In for Good” philosophy, which states that no one will be made to leave housing until a support plan is in place to terminate their rough sleeping, regardless of a rise in temperature, has been adopted by all of London’s boroughs.

The Mayor is issuing a warning that an increasing number of people are being compelled to sleep on the streets of London due to mounting bills and housing expenses. According to the most recent quarterly statistics from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), more than 3,600 people spent the nights on the streets of London between June and September, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. More people than ever before are receiving assistance from the Mayor’s rough sleeping services, which have helped more than 13,500 homeless sleepers leave the streets since 2016.

Sadiq Khan started his annual winter campaign last week to gather money for four organisations that help young homeless Londoners: akt, Centrepoint, Depaul UK, and New Horizon Youth Center. He did this in collaboration with charity partner TAP London. The contributions go toward sustaining the Youth Homelessness Hub, which recently reopened in a new space in north London.