Leeds council to open emergency shelters for city's homeless

With a recent drop in temperatures and forecasts of freezing weather, Leeds City Council is preparing to help protect rough sleepers by opening its emergency shelters.

TRYING TO KEEP WARM: A rough sleeper in Leeds.
TRYING TO KEEP WARM: A rough sleeper in Leeds.

Last night and into the early hours of this morning it was anticipated that the mercury would drop to minus one - but with wind factors making the temperature feel even lower.

The dark nights and cold weather render the city’s rough sleepers more vulnerable than usual and the council told the YEP that they have protocols that defy national guidelines.

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A spokesperson said: “The cold weather protocol is activated by the council when the weather drops to zero or below, and will not be deactivated irrespective of temperature until the first working day of above zero temperatures.

“When the cold weather protocol is activated, we will open emergency shelters on the first night of the freezing weather although national guidance does not require this until the second night.”

Specialist night outreach teams are also stepped up to try and make sure that no one has to sleep on the streets in freezing temperatures. An additional 25 beds are also made available, and anyone who takes up the offer of emergency shelter gets access to more long-term help such as having housing and other needs assessed to stop them returning to the streets.

The council spokesperson added that the authority works throughout the rest of the year to encourage rough sleepers to move into council funded emergency accommodation as well as long term homes.

Official statistics will under-estimate the real figure for homelessness in Leeds, but it is thought to be in the hundreds.

Prior to the weekend a rough sleeper in Birmingham was found dead on the street, having succumbed to cold weather.