A report on the summer heatwave from S.O.W. Alex

During July, the country experienced a considerable heatwave that caused widespread concern for the overall population. Our outreach workers who deliver front-line support across the London area, found additional support was needed in the face of the weather anomaly. This is an account from Alex, Scottish Outreach Worker:

In acknowledgement of the added stress on the homeless population, on Thursday 14th July 2022, Westminster City Council activated SWEP for a period of 1 week. The acronym stands for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol – this emergency action is usually reserved for the winter months, for whenever the temperature either drops below or approaches 3 degrees. However, the extreme temperatures warranted this response for the wellbeing of the borough’s residents, particularly the homeless population and so triggered the protocol a few days ahead of the anticipated peak of the heatwave.

Alex pointed out that most of our clients have issues with alcohol and would no doubt continue to consume alcohol, probably in parks and open spaces in the sun greatly worsening the dehydration and be at risk of heatstroke.

Day centres and hostels with air conditioning and sufficient space, provided a ‘cool room’ for those in need of respite from the sun and heat. The Passage hostel in Victoria and Connections at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Charing Cross participated. Clients were given sunscreen, water, information and advice; these were also offered by the various outreach teams operating within the borough. I made immediate referrals for some our clients and is pleased to report that there were no casualties or hospitalisations.

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