Providing safe spaces - whatever the weather, 2nd December 2021
As Storm Arwen raged across the country at the weekend, causing the worst storm damage in 20 years, we have been relatively lucky in Mendip to have escaped the heavy snow and damaging winds. However, temperatures have most certainly dropped - which has sparked our Severe Weather Emergency Provision, known as SWEP.
SWEP is there to help people who find themselves rough sleeping in severe weather conditions such as freezing temperatures, heavy winds, rain and snow. And also at times of other weather extremes, such as a heatwave or other extreme conditions.
Emergency accommodation is provided to create safe spaces for rough sleepers to leave the streets and take shelter. Mendip District Council funds our excellent partners at the Elim Connect Centre in Wells. Their outreach team assists rough sleepers in the area when temperatures are expected to drop below zero (or reach excessive heat) for three consecutive nights.
Helping rough sleepers is not something we do just when the weather is tough however. Provision is there 365 days of the year. Even on Christmas Day, when Elim open their doors for a traditional Christmas Lunch for the homeless. They can be contacted on 01749 677097 for information about their drop-in sessions and services.
Mendip offers support for people who end up sleeping outside, for whatever reason. We work hard to try and prevent and relieve rough sleeping. And you can help us. If you see somebody, or know of anyone, who is rough sleeping - in a tent, an empty building or even a car - then please contact StreetLink here: www.streetlink.org.uk.
For those lucky enough to have accommodation, it can still be a struggle at this time of year to keep comfortably warm. Tomorrow (Friday 3rd Dec) is Fuel Poverty Day and a good time to remind people who might be finding it hard to heat their homes, that there is help available as the temperatures drop and we move to the winter months.
Low incomes, rising fuel prices and poor energy efficiency within the homes themselves are all contributors to fuel poverty. If you are one of the estimated one-in-ten people living in fuel poverty, help is out there. For information on grants and loans visit: www.mendip.gov.uk/financialassistance; you can get in touch with Mendip's Private Sector Housing Team on 0300 303 8588 or email them direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on saving energy and money, take a look at Mendip's Home Energy Checklist pages: www.mendip.gov.uk/energyefficiency.
Finally, a reminder that this Saturday (4th December) we will be supporting national Small Business Saturday by suspending parking charges in a number of Mendip-owned car parks. Please support our high streets and buy local in the run-up to Christmas - and beyond! Parking charges will be suspended in Cranhill Road, Street; St John's car park, Glastonbury; Union Street, Wells; Great Ostry, Shepton, and the Cattle Market, in Frome. Remember to check terms and conditions - and to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport, as per the new restrictions announced by Government.
68th column for Mid Somerset Series, 2nd December 2021
Mendip Matters, written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council