Mayor opens emergency shelter for rough sleepers in winter weather

02 February 2012

An emergency shelter funded by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has been opened to offer a lifeline to rough sleepers in the capital during the freezing weather forecast for the days ahead.

Vulnerable rough sleepers who are out in sub-zero temperatures will be helped off the streets by trained outreach staff and into the shelter, which is being run by the homeless charity St Mungo’s. As well as access to hot showers, food and clean clothes, people will be helped with access to support services and assistance to find more permanent accommodation so they can get off the streets for good.

Plans are in place throughout the winter to ensure that the 24-hours shelter in Lambeth is open and ready to receive people whenever three consecutive nights of freezing temperatures are predicted. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "This shelter will offer a vital lifeline when temperatures tumble to sub-zero levels and rough sleepers risk losing their lives in the cold. As well as getting people out of the icy weather, it will provide them with the help they need to rebuild their lives so they can get off the streets for good."

Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: "St Mungo’s is pleased to be helping the Mayor’s Office provide this vital service for people in these life-threatening temperatures. We supported more than 100 people into emergency shelter during last year’s severe weather, which is the first step in talking to rough sleepers about the problems they are facing and what longer term support will help them recover."

The severe weather shelter forms part of the Mayor’s overall strategy to end rough sleeping in the capital by 2012. This includes the pan-London No Second Night Out initiative, which aims to ensure that no one who is new to the streets of London spends a second night out sleeping rough. Since its launch in April 2011 the project has helped more than 650 people to come off the streets.

Notes to editors

The Mayor’s London Delivery Board, chaired by the Mayor’s Housing Advisor, Richard Blakeway, is leading on ending rough sleeping in London by the end of 2012. Its membership reflects determined commitment across central, regional and local government, the Metropolitan Police and the voluntary sector to end rough sleeping.

The following organisations have representatives on the London Delivery Board: City of London, City of Westminster, Department of Communities and Local Government, Crisis, Jobcentre Plus, Greater London Authority, Homeless Link, LB Brent, LB Camden, LB Hammersmith and Fulham, LB Kensington and Chelsea, LB Southwark, LB Tower Hamlets, LB Lambeth, London Development Agency, DWP, Mayor's Office, Metropolitan Police, NHS London, St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, Broadway, United Kingdom Borders Agency, National Offender Management Service.

No Second Night Out means that anybody new to the street can get help so that they do not have to sleep out in London for more than one night. An assessment ‘hub’, reconnections service and extra outreach resources are being provided to ensure that those new to the street are provided with an alternative to sleeping rough. The initiative emphasises the importance, where possible, of people reconnecting with their home areas, providing they are not put at risk.

For more information on No Second Night Out visit www.nosecondnightout.org.uk