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Extreme cold weather prompts additional support for vulnerable residents

Date issued: 26 February 2018

Colchester Borough Council is stepping up its support for vulnerable residents, as extreme cold weather is forecast to grip the region over the coming week.

The Council is working with other agencies to ensure rough sleepers receive the help and support they need to access safe and secure accommodation -- with local night shelters and supported housing providers all set to provide emergency provision for anyone who may find themselves homeless during the severe cold snap.

With temperatures forecast to drop to minus double-digit figures overnight, the Council's own specialist rough sleeper coordinator, the police, Helpline and volunteers will all be on hand to signpost individuals identified as sleeping rough to a range of local support services. Residents can also use StreetLink to raise concerns about anyone sleeping rough in the borough.

Additional help for residents will also be available throughout winter in the shape of the Colchester Communities Can initiative, a partnership between Colchester Council and Community360 that offers extra support and advice to those who are in need or isolated, and which encourages local people to look out for others in their neighbourhood.

Colchester Communities Can is based at a pop-up shop in Unit 81, Culver Street East, Colchester, CO1 1LF. From 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, anyone can visit the pop-up shop for advice and information on volunteering. Individuals and families in need will have access to support and emergency winter packs, which includes warm clothing. 

While Essex County Council and the Highways Agency are responsible for gritting, the Council's Zone Teams will also be out and about during the cold weather blast to help grit main pavements and pavements leading into and around the High Street and Town Centre, as well as the main shopping parades in Tiptree, West Mersea and Dedham.

Cllr Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities said: "Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous at any time, but this increases significantly for people who are very vulnerable anyway when the temperature begins to drop.

"At this time of year it is particularly vital that we do everything we can to make people aware of the support systems available. I would urge people to be vigilant. If you see anyone who you think may be sleeping rough in the cold weather, please let us know, as there are things we can do to help them find appropriate accommodation.

"It is crucial that during this period of cold weather that residents -- particularly the elderly -- act to keep themselves and their home warm, even if this is just by heating the bedroom and living room.

"We're also urging people to access the support available or assist in their local community via the fantastic Colchester Communities Can initiative. Taking measures to stay warm and work with others really can make a life-changing and life-saving difference."