Housing

This evaporating pavement art is highlighting how heatwaves are a threat to rough sleepers

The pavement art has popped up across London ahead of a new wave of hot weather set to hit the English capital this week.

homeless in heatwave

Single Homeless Project opted to install the art after the record-breaking heatwaves in July highlighted the dangers hot weather poses to people on the street. Image: Single Homeless Project

Pavement art highlighting the danger heatwaves pose to rough sleepers has popped up across London ahead of a new spell of hot weather set to hit the English capital this week.

The Met Office has warned temperatures are set to rise into the mid-30Cs at the end of this week. It follows the record-breaking 40C heatwave last month, during which London mayor Sadiq Khan launched emergency measures to protect on the city’s streets.

Charity Single Homeless Project (SHP) has now placed pavement artwork across the city to highlight how heat brings a risk to life. When splashed with water the art reveals the message “No Home. No Water.”

“Just as with extreme cold, anyone sleeping rough is at risk during a heatwave. Severe sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke are all real risks. If you have no home, you can’t just grab a glass of water from your kitchen to cool down,” said Tonia Murphy, regional head of rough sleeping services at SHP. 

“We help one Londoner at risk of or experiencing homelessness every hour and as the city heat continues, we’re working hard to help people off the streets and into a place to call home. We can all do our bit to help a fellow Londoner who might be struggling by asking how they are, offering water, suncream or an umbrella for shade.”

homeless in heatwave
The art is revealed when covered in water and is intended to show up after pavements are cleaned, for example. Image: Single Homeless Project

As many as 1,000 excess deaths may have been recorded during the heatwave last month, according to reports from the New Scientist.

Rough sleepers are particularly vulnerable to the heat with little shelter from the sun and few resources to stay hydrated and protected from conditions like heat stroke. The danger led Khan to announce Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (Swep) measures last month.

With heatwaves now 10 times more likely due to climate change, according to analysis from World Weather Attribution, SHP opted to bring the art to the streets to raise the alarm on how the issue is affecting people experiencing homelessness.

The charity placed the designs at Parliament Square, Upper Street in Angel, Shoreditch High Street, Spur Street in Waterloo and Tooley Street in London Bridge.

homeless in heatwave
The design shows a person lying down with the message ‘No Home. No Water.’. Image: Single Homeless Project

Helen James, managing director of CPB London, the creative agency that developed the idea, said: “Heatwaves aren’t going away – climate scientists have now said we’re officially no longer a cold country. It’s therefore crucial we raise awareness of the dangers of heat on the street, not only the risk rough sleepers face in winter. We can all do our bit to check in on someone, help them to stay cool and donate to a charity helping to end homelessness in London.”

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