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Housing

People are being urged to help rough sleepers during the heatwave

People should contact StreetLink if concerned about someone on the street.

A homelessness charity has urged the public to help people sleeping rough in the heat as England is hit by a heatwave this week.

The Met Office and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have issued a heat-health alert as the heatwave looks set to bring temperatures over 30C this week.

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A level 2 alert, which warns of a threat to health from high temperatures, is in place across the south-west, East Midlands, West Midlands, north-west and Yorkshire and the Humber regions. The east of England, the south-east and London are all under a level 3 alert, which requires social and healthcare services to take action to protect high-risk groups of people.

Petra Salva, St Mungo’s director of rough sleepers, Westminster and migrant services, urged the public to join efforts to protect rough sleepers this week.

“Sleeping rough is dangerous at any time of the year – but in extreme temperatures that risk is hugely increased,” said Salva.

“The people we support often have existing health conditions which can be exacerbated by the heat, also they may have limited access to things most people take for granted such as fresh drinking water, sunscreen or even places where they can get out of the sun – all of which can lead to serious medical problems.

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“We urge members of the public to take action if they see someone who is homeless. It can be as simple as offering a drink or some sun protection.”

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The charity plans to increase the number of routine outreach shifts through the day and the night this week to hand out drinking water and sunscreen as well as helping people into shelter from the heat.

St Mungo’s is also urging authorities to activate Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). The measure allows people experiencing homelessness to be able to stay safe during the heatwave.

Meanwhile, the general public can highlight rough sleepers in need through the StreetLink app and website which passes alerts to local outreach teams to support people on the streets.

“This weather may be welcomed by many but for others it can be so dangerous, even life threatening,” added Salva.

“Any one concerned about a person who is street homeless can contact StreetLink which is a national service which connects people sleeping rough to local support. And, as ever, if someone is in an emergency situation people should call 999.”

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The heat-health alerts are in place from 9am on Monday July 11 to 9am on Friday July 15.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UKHSA, said: “Most of us can enjoy the hot weather when it arrives, but it is important to keep yourself hydrated and to find shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11am and 3pm.

“If you have vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, make sure they are aware of how they can keep themselves protected from the warm weather.”

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