Warm banks across South West become 'the place to be' in sub-zero temperatures

As icy weather continues to grip the South West, warm banks have become the "place to be" for many people needing essential extra support this winter.

Once warm bank in Bristol has been inundated with visitors. Easton Community Trust is a busy community centre but is doubling up as a warm bank too.

There is a lot on offer from support and advice, to free computers and wifi, a children's play area and there is always a hot drink and snack on offer.

Ariane Bunce said she visits the warm bank at least once a week with her children Louis and Una.

She said: "You know when you just need to get out the house and find this home feeling but elsewhere, this is the place to be."

Ariane Bunce comes to Easton Community Centre at least once a week with her two children

Ariane explained: "As you know it's freezing outside and for kids the park isn't fun all day long. So it's very important to have a place where they can be warm and entertained and have fun as you can see here.

"It's also a really good location in Bristol so I can easily go to the shops afterwards and meet up with friends."

Rough sleepers in Bristol are also being offered additional support and help to find a bed as temperatures drop below freezing.

The charity St Mungo's, in partnership with Bristol City Council, has organised accommodation so that nobody has to sleep on the streets during this extreme weather.

This follows a long spell of cold weather in December, when the charity ran this emergency response for nearly two weeks - in that time more than 200 people used the service.

David Ingerslev, who is the regional head for St Mungo's in Bristol, said: "When the weather gets extremely cold then there's an immediate risk that night to people because bedding and clothing might freeze in below zero temperatures.

"It's dangerous at all times of year but in the cold weather we co-ordinate extra spaces for people to stay indoors at night out of the worst parts of the cold weather to save lives."

St Mungo's in Bristol has organised extra support for people rough sleeping in the city

Councillor Tom Renhard, cabinet member for Housing Delivery and Homes, said: “We will use this time as an opportunity to engage with people who are currently rough sleeping around the city.

"We can then try and help them find a route away from the streets and into settled accommodation.”

Across England, Local Authorities work alongside homelessness organisations to organise and carry out a SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol).

In Bristol, the emergency response is activated when the temperature is forecast to be zero degrees or colder for three consecutive nights - or when there is a risk of loss of life for people sleeping out in the prevailing weather conditions. 

  • St Mungo's asks that if anyone sees someone rough sleeping in Bristol to call the Outreach team on 0117 4070330