THE town’s homeless agencies have stepped up their work in recent weeks after temperatures plunged to below freezing,

Barnsley’s severe weather emergency protocol (SWEPT) has provided more than 35 homeless people with a warm place to sleep in recent months.

Andrew Crawford from the Barnsley Rough Sleepers Project said most homeless residents within the town centre have taken up the offer of SWEPT accommodation during the recent snow.

“I am out almost every evening, providing hot food and drink to the homeless residents across the town centre and it’s been great to see so many of them be able to get off the streets when it’s been so cold,” he added.

“Residents are usually put up in a hotel for the duration of the bad weather, but we have noticed that some SWEPT accommodation seems to be out of the borough, in Sheffield or Wakefield which does cause problems for residents who have to collect prescriptions daily as they then have to make their own way back to Barnsley.

“The pandemic has made things a little more difficult, as we can’t be as hands-on as we usually are, but no-one deserves to be out in freezing temperatures.

“We have one or two residents that feel they will be better off if they don’t go into emergency accommodation, and we are always there to support those that are still on the streets by providing them with a hot meal and a drink to help keep them warm.”

Coun Jenny Platts, cabinet spokesperson for communities, said: “We have information on who is out on the streets at any one time due to proactive outreach work and regular communication received from our partners and the public.

“Through this positive outreach, we work to make sure that we quickly identify and support all homeless people to find accommodation.

“We make sure that we have additional spaces within temporary accommodation to be able to offer anyone facing sleeping outside a safe place to stay.

“This accommodation can be hotels or bed and breakfasts. This can sometimes be out of the area, however, in these cases, transport is also provided.

“The challenge can be that some people may not always accept the accommodation on offer.”