Emergency bed scheme for rough sleepers in Ipswich after snow forecasts

Stock image of a rough sleeper. Pic: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.

Stock image of a rough sleeper. Pic: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert. - Credit: ap

An emergency bed scheme for people sleeping rough in Ipswich has been triggered after snow and below-freezing temperatures were forecast this week.

Twelve cold weather beds at Cavendish Lodge in Turret Lane, near the town centre, will be open from Thursday until further notice, Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) confirmed to this newspaper.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of snow in Suffolk for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Temperatures could fall as low as -2C (28.4F) during the night.

Demelza Penberth, locality manager of the Ipswich Locality Homelessness Partnership (ILHP), said the wintry weather puts vulnerable people more at risk.

She said: “Any group of people who are vulnerable is going to be more vulnerable in colder weather. The fact that you are rough sleeping, you are vulnerable anyway, because you are out on streets.

“So anything that is going to increase that vulnerability is a key factor. That’s why we have this emergency protocol; it’s about having that humanitarian response. It recognises that increased vulnerability.

“It is probably more in people’s minds when it is colder and more extreme, but what we’re saying is, could people be mindful all-year round. It is just as dangerous when the weather is really extreme. It is not just about the cold. The wind and rain can make it just as dangerous.

“We also tend to talk about people who are homeless, rather than homeless people. It’s not a condition. It’s a consequence, and it can happen to anyone, which is worth remembering.”

For more information about ILHP, click here.

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An IBC spokesman said: “With temperatures forecast to plunge on Thursday, Ipswich Borough Council is activating its emergency beds scheme for rough sleepers from Thursday until further notice.

“Access to Cavendish Lodge is from 6pm for an initial assessment by staff, with beds available from 8pm on a first come/first served basis.”

The beds are provided in partnership with Genesis Housing Association. People who need their help can also receive long-term housing advice from trained staff.

In Colchester, the Winter Shelter scheme at St Peter’s Church in the town centre remains open. It is open from December until the end of February.

A spokesman for Colchester Borough Council, which supports the scheme, said: “The shelter provides accommodation and refreshments for people who are homeless, who would otherwise be sleeping rough. There is also provision to extend the scheme if the weather is poor.”

Meanwhile, health chiefs have advised people to be prepared of the dangers of the colder weather.

“It is important to stay aware of the fact that cold weather can cause serious illness such as stroke, heart attack and pneumonia, especially if you have a long-term health condition or are aged over 65,” said Dr Mark Shenton, chairman of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning group (CCG).

The CCG also advised: “Look out for others. Remember to keep an eye out for elderly relatives, neighbours and friends. Spare a few moments if you can to pop round for a chat.”

Other advice includes: living rooms should be between around 18-21C (65-70F) warm; washing hands regularly to avoid colds, norovirus or the winter vomiting bug; moving around at least once every hour; having warm meals and drinking warm drinks regularly, wearing lots of thin layers, such as cotton, wool and fleecy fibres.

People are also urged to call the NHS 111 service for free, 24/7 urgent medical advice, as well as visiting pharmacies for advice and over-the-counter medicine.

Suffolk County Council is also urging people who are eligible to get a flu vaccination.

Those with diagnosed conditions, such as heart conditions, diabetes, asthma and other breathing problems, are particularly urged to get the free vaccination from a pharmacy or GP surgery.

Pregnant women, people with an underlying health condition and those aged 65 and over qualify for a free jab. Anyone who does not fall into these categories can arrange vaccination for a fee at participating pharmacies

Tony Goldson, the authority’s cabinet member for health, said: “We’re into the winter season now and with it the risk of flu. “That’s why we’re calling on Suffolk people to get vaccinated, if they have not done so already. The flu vaccination is widely recognised as an effective way to reduce harm from flu – it protects individuals from the worst effects of flu and helps prevent the spread of flu to friends, family and others.”

Children of aged two, three and four and in school years one, two and three have for the second year running been offered the vaccination as a nasal spray delivered in schools.