Westminster Council calls for help for rough sleepers in the scorching heat

Westminster Council calls for help for rough sleepers in the scorching heat

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With the mercury set to rise to a punishing 34 degrees this weekend outreach workers will be handing out water bottles, energy drinks and sunscreen to help protect rough sleepers in central London.

The move comes as Public Health England said hospital emergency departments saw an increase in people suffering from heat stroke over the previous week.

Westminster City Council is joining forces with the homeless charities and faith groups it works with to hand out supplies to help protect people sleeping rough from heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunstroke.

Around 2,000 people die from problems caused by heat in the UK each year.

Homeless Link warns: “Deaths may be from underlying illnesses made worse by heat – primarily lung and heart diseases – or from heat specific conditions, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Mental ill health may also worsen during hot weather.”

And Public Health England said: “Covid-19 amplifies the risks of hot weather.”

The government health organisation said: “People at risk from high temperatures may also be vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, and vice versa.”

Because of social distancing it may not be practical to take respite from the sun in some of the places people would normally use – such as the National  Gallery on Trafalgar Square where people currently have to pre-book their visit online.

So together with St Mungos and faith groups attached to the council’s Faith and Voluntary Network, indoor or shaded areas will also be open.

 St James Piccadilly church will be open from 12pm to 6pm on Friday (Aug 7), the London Jesus Centre on Margaret St near Westminster Abbey will be open between  11am to 3pm on Saturday and the West London Synagogue in Seymour Place from 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

Councillor Heather Acton the Cabinet member for public Protection and Licensing said: “The hot weather can be just as dangerous as the cold for people living on the streets and I am so pleased to see such a massive community effort to ensure some of the most vulnerable people in our society have shaded or indoor spaces to visit so they don’t suffer in the heat.”

The council has provided temporary housing in hotels for 266 during lockdown and found more long-term homes for more than 240 so far.

But as job losses begin to bite there are worries that more people will find themselves on the street.

Anyone worried about someone sleeping rough should report it via StreetLink www.streetlink.london/Streetlink_London_HomePage

 
 
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