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Emergency homeless shelters open in London as freezing weather hits

The Met Office is forecasting temperatures to fall below zero.

Emergency shelters in London are being opened (Yui Mok/PA)
Emergency shelters in London are being opened (Yui Mok/PA)

Emergency shelters for the homeless have been open across London as freezing temperatures hit the capital.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said the cold weather meant all emergency shelters would  be open to rough sleepers in the city from Thursday night and throughout the weekend.

More than 700 spaces at severe weather shelters funded by City Hall and London’s boroughs will be available every night, in addition to more than 600 spaces in shelters run by faith and community groups.

The Met Office is forecasting temperatures to fall below zero in London for the next couple of nights.

“This time of year is often when the most bitter cold weather hits. As the temperature drops tonight, our approach means all emergency shelters across London will be open to help rough sleepers,” the mayor said.

“At City Hall, we are doing all we can to help people off the streets.”

Mr Khan said Londoners could support rough sleepers through the StreetLink alert system or by donating to homeless charities through new contactless donation points or online.

Last year, the mayor rolled out 35 new TAP London contactless donation points across London as part of his rough sleeping campaign.

This winter London councils have agreed severe weather shelters will open city-wide if temperatures are predicted to drop below zero.

Shelters were previously opened on a borough-by-borough basis.

A spokesman for the mayor said this was the second time this winter that emergency shelters have been opened, after they were open for four consecutive nights in mid December.

Mr Khan has also worked with boroughs to get them to sign up to the In For Good principle – a commitment to accommodate a rough sleeper in an emergency shelter until a support plan to help them off the streets is put in place.

According to the Met Office, temperatures in inner London could drop to zero or minus 1C on Thursday and Friday night, with the outskirts of the city possibly experiencing minus 2C or minus 3C.

“Most towns and cities [will be] hovering just below freezing or just above depending on the amount of cloud,” said meteorologist Craig Snell.

He added: “You will probably see a frost one of the nights coming up depending on where you are.”

On Wednesday night a temperature of minus 10.5C was felt in Braemar, Scotland – the lowest recorded this winter the Met Office said.

Areas in the West Midlands, Wales and eastern Scotland could see temperatures of around minus 6C and minus 7C on Thursday night and western cities could be hit by minus 2C or minus 3C conditions on Friday night.

Temperatures are expected to remain chilly at the start of the weekend but increased cloud cover could bring milder conditions on Sunday in London.

Mr Snell said: “Subtle differences with the cloud amounts will give some changes to the forecast as we get closer to the weekend.”

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