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Emergency homeless shelters are activated following freezing weather

There are no legal protections for people sleeping rough during severe weather Credit: PA

Emergency shelters have been activated across the West Midlands for the first time this year after temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing last night.

Caring for Communities and People, the firm responsible for homeless outreach, alerted local councils yesterday that the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol was in place for the first time since last winter.

CCP has asked if any rough sleepers are spotted outside during the cold weather, to report them to Streetlink Credit: PA

There are currently no legal protections for people sleeping rough in England during severe weather – the provision of shelter is not a statutory duty, even when conditions are life threatening, says Homeless Link. However, the charity, which supports organisations working directly with people who become homeless, adds "there is a humanitarian obligation on local authorities to do all they can to prevent deaths on the streets, and for their partners and the public to support these efforts."

Homeless people in Birmingham are dying at nearly double the national rate Credit: PA

Homeless people in Birmingham are dying at nearly double the national rate, according to new figures.

23
homeless people died in Birmingham in 2018.

The number of deaths was up from 18 in 2017 and was the highest number since records began in 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figures mainly include people sleeping rough at or around the time of death, but also include those using emergency accommodation such as homeless shelters and direct access hostels.

You can search for a homeless shelter or hostel near you. Advice from the charity Shelteralso includes:

  • If you find a hostel, night shelter or winter shelter, call them and see if you need to:
  • book in advance or turn up in person
  • arrive by a certain time
  • have a local connection
  • get a referral, for example from the council, social services or an advice centre

CCP has asked if any rough sleepers are spotted outside during the cold weather, to report them to Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 or via streetlink.org.uk.