NEW arrangements for providing emergency beds to rough sleepers during severe winter weather were tested successfully last week when overnight temperatures dipped below zero.

The new city council measures mean that emergency beds will be available more frequently and that it will be easier for people experiencing rough sleeping to access one.

The council wants housing and support providers, people sleeping rough and the general public to be aware of changes to its severe weather emergency protocol before freezing winter weather properly begins.

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SWEP (severe weather emergency protocol) is emergency accommodation for anyone experiencing rough sleeping.

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Last Monday the council activated SWEP when the Met Office forecast the overnight temperature would drop to zero or below.

Oxford Mail:

For the first time, this winter SWEP beds are available for anyone who wants to come inside on every night the Met Office forecasts a sub-zero overnight temperature and there could be sub-zero temperatures tomorrow.

This year’s activation of SWEP is 11 days earlier than the only other time emergency beds have opened in November.

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Stephen Clarke, head of housing services, said: "We’ve made changes this year by activating SWEP on every night of a freezing overnight temperature forecast and by allocating bed spaces to people in advance.

"While it’s only one night so far, SWEP ran smoothly last week and we hope this will continue as often as we need to offer emergency beds this winter."