It’s turning cold out there. Temperatures in Ludlow are expected to fall to minus 3°C overnight, minus 4°C later in the week before warming slightly from the weekend. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has also issued a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert until 12 December.

It’s double duvet time.

The UKHSA has urged people to keep warm:

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you. Try to heat the rooms you use most, such as the living and bedroom, to at least 18°C if you can and keep your bedroom windows closed at night.”

That’s a message that has been echoed Age Concern locally.

Public Health England has produced a short video on the health impacts of cold and on keeping warm:

Shropshire Council has published a list of around 50 locations which are taking part in the Warm Welcome location initiative this winter. They include Working Together Ludlow’s lunch club and Ludlow Library. Our churches also offer a warm welcome.

From today, Shropshire Council is implementing the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). A decision on whether to operate SWEP is going to be made on a daily basis but we can expect it to last until the weekend.

Under SWEP, rough sleepers are given accomodation overnight in a night shelter in Shrewsbury from 10pm to 7am. Those arriving will be offered hot drinks and snacks. Shropshire Council’s rough sleeper team will be at the shelter until midnight and from 7am the next morning to direct people to the Shrewsbury Ark where washing facilities, showers and breakfast will be available.

There will be two security officers from Taybar Security present throughout the night, with a third officer based nearby.

This is fairly straightforward for rough sleepers in Shrewsbury town centre but it is harder to access for those living on the streets in rural towns such as Ludlow.

Rough sleepers in the market towns will be offered a taxi to and from Shrewsbury every day that SWEP operates.

I’d be surprised if this works. Rough sleepers are reluctant to leave the towns where they are based, unless they are just passing through. The timing doesn’t work well. For a 10pm arrival in Shrewsbury, a taxi would have to leave Ludlow just after 9pm. Most rough sleepers bed down at, or shortly after, nightfall. Are they really going to get out of bed for a taxi? Maybe but I am doubtful.

It would be better to provide local hotels, though not all accept rough sleepers.

Rough sleepers are particularly vulnerable to severe cold as they often have poor nutrition and poor health. It is not just physical health. Severe weather can impact on mental health, which is rarely good in rough sleepers, even in good weather.

Cold weather like extreme heat can be challenging in different ways for different people. Look after yourselves, look after your friends and neighbours. I know people are trying to look after our rough sleepers.

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