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Housing

Homelessness charity asks public to stay alert for rough sleepers at risk from heatwave

The public is being asked to stay alert for rough sleepers at risk from the heatwave that will push temperatures above 30C in some parts.

A leading homelessness charity has issued a warning about the dangers of extreme weather on people sleeping rough as a heatwave pushes temperatures to 30C and above this week.

St Mungo’s said its outreach team will increase the number of routine shifts it carries out to check on those living on the streets and ensure they are offered shelter from the sun.

Every summer there are a number of excess deaths due to hot weather. It is estimated that nationally there are 75 extra deaths per week for each degree difference in temperature.

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The UK Health Security Agency has declared a ‘level two alert’ for southern and central England with temperatures forecast to reach 33C (91.4F) in some areas on Friday.

The heatwave is the result of hot air spreading up from Spain, Portugal and north Africa, where temperatures have hit upwards of 40C in recent days. Extreme temperatures are the result of climate change, with hotter summers set to become more frequent in the UK.

Local councils across the south of England are expected to activate their Severe Weather Emergency Plans to ensure people can shelter safely from the sun.

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Petra Salva, director of rough sleeper, Westminster and migrant services at St Mungo’s, said: “This heat can be life-threatening, especially whilst the temperatures remain high for prolonged periods.

“The heat can cause a number of severe health illnesses such as heat cramps, heat rash, heat oedema, heat syncope, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“We ask members of the public to take action if they see someone sleeping rough, by buying them sun cream or some water and make an alert to StreetLink, so that they can be connected with local support and brought inside.

“In an emergency people should call 999 when a person’s safety is at risk.”

StreetLink operates 24 hours a day all year long, with alerts passed to local outreach teams who use the information to find and support people sleeping rough.

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