Charities and public bodies have hailed the success of a fire service partnership set up to help those on the streets or at risk of being on the streets in Sheffield.
Twenty nine people spent the night at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s headquarters during six of the coldest nights of the year.
The new scheme has proven so successful, agencies including British Red Cross, Framework’s Street Outreach Team and Sheffield City Council’s Housing Solutions service are working with the fire service to formalise the partnership ready for next winter.
Area Manager Tony Carlin, said: “Helping people in need and saving lives is core to our mission as a fire service, so it made perfect sense for us to answer the call for emergency accommodation during the recent cold snaps. This initiative provides comfort, warmth and shelter for rough sleepers and the homeless and is a clear example of public agencies working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in our area. Whilst this was hastily pulled together for this year, it’s something we intend to repeat next winter we continue to do what we can as a fire service to make our communities safer.”
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “It’s important to us, particularly with the recent cold weather that we have seen in the last few weeks, that extra care and shelter is provided for those most in need in the city. I’m grateful to all of the partners involved in this initiative who have planned, organised and worked together to make this happen in Sheffield for those who are most vulnerable. We’re hoping that those who have been less likely to come indoors in the past will recognise how much they can benefit from taking us up on our offer of support in the future.”
Joe Tilston, British Red Cross Senior Emergency Response Officer for Yorkshire said: “We responded to the request from Sheffield City Council alongside South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to support the scheme providing emergency shelter to the homeless in the city. British Red Cross volunteers and staff are provided practical and emotional support, including the provision of hot food and drinks, and signposting service users to longer-term support where needed.”
Under the scheme, British Red Cross volunteers were on hand to welcome people and provide hot drinks and snacks, with Framework’s Street Outreach Team and Sheffield City Council’s Housing Solutions service helping people to access accommodation and support.
During the winter Sheffield City Council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, known locally as Weather Watch, in response to the potential risk to life when the weather is very cold.
Every week early morning outreach sessions take place in Sheffield to identify and support people who are sleeping rough.
As well as support with accommodation, Sheffield has a number of services which offer practical help and advice to rough sleepers.
This includes drop in services offering food, clothing, showers and laundry facilities as well as access to healthcare professionals and recovery support There are also services commissioned by Sheffield City Council, as well as local charities and voluntary organisations providing practical assistance, plus housing advice and support.