Mayor activates emergency heatwave response to help rough sleepers

London mayor Sadiq Khan  (PA Wire)
London mayor Sadiq Khan (PA Wire)

The capital’s hot weather has caused mayor Sadiq Khan to activate an emergency response aimed at helping homeless people stay safe in the heat.

With temperatures in London expected to reach 33C this week, City Hall announced on Wednesday evening that Mr Khan had initiated the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

Usually only activated when temperatures plummet to freezing in the winter, the protocol prompts councils – along with homelessness charities – to provide emergency accommodation and support for vulnerable rough sleepers.

The SWEP has led City Hall to contact all boroughs and rough sleeping services, asking that they take steps such as providing water and sunscreen, as well as giving suitable accommodation to those who are most vulnerable to the effects of heat.

In addition, they have been asked to signpost rough sleepers to suitable cool spaces and to forward the SWEP alert to any rough sleeper support services in their area.

The mayor previously activated a hot weather SWEP during the unprecedented heatwave in July last year. Mr Khan said: “This ongoing heatwave could be dangerous for anyone, but for people sleeping rough, there are additional risks."

“That is why City Hall is working with London’s boroughs to prioritise support for some of our most vulnerable Londoners…

“As ever, London’s councils and charities will be working hard this week to support those sleeping rough in our city, and I thank them for their tireless efforts.”

According to the most recent available figures, a total of 3,272 people were recorded sleeping rough in London from April to June 2023.

This is up from 2,998 individuals in April to June 2022.

Of that latest total, 1614 were recorded as sleeping rough for the first time.