Leeds City Council opens emergency shelters for homeless as temperatures plunge

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Emergency shelters for homeless people were opened in Leeds last night as temperatures dropped to zero.

Leeds City Council said its cold weather protocol had come into operation last night due to forecasts of freezing weather.

It means additional beds are made available to people sleeping rough in the city and a stepping up of patrols by the council's night outreach teams.

The arrangements will remain in place tonight and until further notice, with the measures only ending on the first working day of above zero temperatures.

A council spokesman said: "When freezing weather is forecast, Leeds City Council will apply its cold weather protocol. The cold weather protocol is activated by the council when the weather drops to zero or below, and will not be deactivated irrespective of temperature until the first working day of above zero temperatures.

"When the cold weather protocol is activated, we will open emergency shelters on the first night of the freezing weather although national guidance does not require this until the second night."

Emergency shelters have opened in Leeds to provide extra beds for any rough sleepers in the city.

Emergency shelters have opened in Leeds to provide extra beds for any rough sleepers in the city.

He said council teams work "week in, week out" to encourage rough sleepers to move into the emergency accommodation which it funds and also support them into long-term accommodation.

But the level of outreach work is escalated during cold snaps due to the dangers it presents to anyone sleeping on the streets.

The spokesman said: "As part of the cold weather protocol in place, night outreach teams will be stepped up to make sure that no one has to sleep on the streets in freezing temperatures.

"Through the protocol an additional 23 beds are also made available, and anyone who takes up our offer of emergency shelter will also have their housing and other needs assessed to help ensure that they do not have to return to the streets."

Members of the general public also have a part to play in ensuring those in need of assistance can access the emergency shelters.

If anyone is aware of rough sleepers that may not be known to the Leeds Street Outreach Team, they can call 0113 245 9445 during the daytime or 07891 273939 out of hours.

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