Emergency beds for rough sleepers are being made available in Oxford tonight.

The city council is activating its severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) because the Met Office forecasts sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperatures and the potential for snow.

This means that beds will open for anyone who wants to come inside the shelters tonight.

The Met Office forecast for the rest of the week is for milder overnight temperatures and the council does not currently expect the emergency beds to remain open after tonight.

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SWEP is emergency accommodation for anyone experiencing rough sleeping – including people who have no local connection to Oxford, no right to claim benefits or housing in the UK or who have refused offers of accommodation and support.

Oxford Mail:

Until this year, the council – in common with most other councils – activated SWEP on the first night of a Met Office forecast that the overnight temperature would fall to zero or below on three or more consecutive nights.

This winter SWEP beds are available on every night the Met Office forecasts sub-zero overnight temperatures.

The local authority has been investing millions of pounds to reduce rough sleeping.

This includes £1.9m on a new homeless shelter in Floyds Row, off St Aldates.

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The former job centre has been converted and is now open.

Oxford Mail:

The council also uses its discretion to open emergency beds in other severe weather conditions.

These can include snow on the ground, sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperatures or a warmer night in the middle of a prolonged freezing spell.

Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “We’re using our discretion to activate SWEP and open emergency beds because the Met Office is forecasting a sub-zero ‘feels like’ temperature and the potential for snow tonight.

"We will review the situation tomorrow but do not currently expect emergency beds to stay open tomorrow night.

Oxford Mail:

"The outreach team (OxSPOT) and day services are telling people experiencing or at risk of rough sleeping that emergency beds are available tonight.

"If you’re concerned about somebody sleeping rough please contact OxSPOT on 01865 243229 or email Outreach.Oxford@mungos.org. OxSPOT is not an emergency service and will follow up all calls or emails as quickly as possible."