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Emergency shelters opened for homeless

Plunging temperatures can be fatal to those sleeping on the streets.

Emergency shelters have been opened for the homeless as freezing conditions and snow hit the UK.

Councils across Britain are offering extra accommodation to rough sleepers, whose lives are at risk on the streets.

During extremely cold weather, when temperatures fall to zero degrees or lower for three days, special measures come into action with the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

Here is how the public can help:

– Be extra vigilant in looking out for homeless people during cold weather.

– Report anyone sleeping rough in freezing conditions to the council or StreetLink.

– Call 999 in an emergency.

– Donate or volunteer with a homeless charity.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said emergency shelters “ensure people sleeping rough have somewhere warm to stay through the cold weather forecast this weekend and next week”.

In the capital extra support can be implemented when the temperature drops below freezing for one night and other facilities are full.

Homeless charity St Mungo’s said offering a hot shower, clean clothes and hot food as well as an emergency bed can help save lives.

Petra Salva, director of outreach services at St Mungo’s, said: “Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous, but when temperatures drop, lives are at risk.

“Health problems connected to continued exposure to the freezing cold, including hypothermia, exacerbate people’s already poor physical and mental health.

“It’s vital that we get help to people quickly so we can save lives, but also, in the longer term, find people permanent accommodation and the space to recover.”

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