Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)

Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)


Sleeping rough is very dangerous, especially during freezing temperatures.

Winter often poses the greatest risk to people's health; however, it also provides more opportunities than usual for us to engage with rough sleepers because they may be more likely to accept support at this time of year.

When we would activate SWEP

We will work closely with local homelessness services to decide when SWEP should operate. We will do this by monitoring the Met Office's weather forecasts and taking into account any weather (including extreme cold, wind and rain) that is likely to increase the risk of serious harm to people sleeping rough.

SWEP will now be activated when the Met Office forecasts that:

  • The overnight temperature in Northampton will be 0ºC or below for at least three consecutive nights, a severe weather shelter will open in COVID-safe premises in the town centre for men and women who are sleeping rough in Northampton and have registered for SWEP
  • When the overnight temperature in Northampton will be -1°C or lower (for two hours or longer between 9.00pm and 9.00am) for just one or two nights, SWEP will be activated and the severe weather shelter will open on those nights.

You can find more information about SWEP on the Homeless Link website.

Northampton's Severe Weather Shelter

When SWEP is operational, a temporary severe weather shelter will be provided in COVID-safe town centre premises.

The severe weather shelter will be accessible to men and women who are sleeping rough in Northampton, who have registered for SWEP. To register for SWEP, they must be interviewed and risk assessed (by our Single Homelessness Adviser, our Street Services Team or a member of staff in Northampton Hope Centre or NAASH) and must not pose an unacceptable risk to other people working, volunteering or staying in the severe weather shelter.

People who are sleeping rough will be admitted to the severe weather shelter from 9.00pm and must arrive no later than 11.00pm. Guests will be provided with a hot meal, hot drinks, bedding and access to shower facilities. During the evening, and the next working day, they will have the opportunity to access a range of advice and support, including signposting and referrals to other services.

To ensure that SWEP is safe and effective, everyone who uses SWEP must comply with a set of rules, including the special measures introduced to protect everyone from the risks posed by COVID-19. We reserve the right to exclude from the severe weather shelter, and to refuse access to the severe weather shelter, anyone who does not comply with these rules or poses an unacceptable risk to other people in the shelter.

Volunteer to help

If you would like to help with the running of the Severe Weather Shelter, please view the job description and apply online:

Donations for SWEP

Donations of food and warm clothing are always welcome so, if you would like to make donations when SWEP is operational, please contact Tara Scarth (our Single Homelessness Pathway Manager):

What to do if you see a rough sleeper

If you identify someone who is sleeping rough, please contact our Street Outreach Team and encourage the person to visit the Guildhall to contact our Single Homelessness Adviser as soon as possible.

Our Single Homelessness Adviser is available Monday to Friday 10am until 4pm and will complete a full assessment of the person's needs (including a referral to emergency accommodation if appropriate).