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Westminster City Council

What is the Sleepsafe initiative and how does it help?

As we are approaching the coldest part of the year, we understand that waste containers housing soft materials such as paper, cardboard and textiles can be appealing to a rough sleeper, since it provides a warm and dry place to shelter.

However, sleeping in these places can often come with consequences. The Sleepsafe initiative is designed to help keep rough sleepers safe and educate businesses on how to best manage their waste containers (bins) to avoid accidents.

Why was Sleepsafe introduced?

Waste collectors all over the country have been dealing with the issue of rough sleepers in waste and recycling containers for a long time. As such, Veolia (our long-term waste management provider in Westminster) introduced their ‘Sleepsafe’ initiative.

Here is what Veolia UK’s Chief Risk and Assurance Officer, Richard Hulland, said about the initiative.

“As part of our active risk policy, we implement a Sleepsafe campaign to educate our operatives to protect homeless people from taking refuge in bins, an issue that is prevalent during the winter. Measures like banging on the side of a bin and looking inside sound straightforward, but it saves lives.”

The powerful video from Veolia below shows the impact that the Sleepsafe initiative can have.

We are now actively supporting the Sleepsafe initiative within Westminster to reduce the number of injuries that occur from rough sleeping in waste containers.

What can you do to help keep rough sleepers safe?

Here are a few tips on what you can do to help:

  • Wherever practical, locate your containers in a secure area. If your container is not in a secure area, use a container with a lockable lid.
  • Inform your staff of the risks of not securing your container. Ensure your containers are secured every evening. Use the Sleepsafe video above as a training aid.
  • Train your staff to spot the signs of people trying to access or sleeping in your containers and report it to Commercial Waste Services through our contact centre using the number below.
  • Regularly check your containers, especially before a collection is due. A quick visual check of the contents is enough.
  • Fit warning signs around your external container areas, acting as a reminder to your employees and a warning to people seeking shelter.

Do you need help keeping your storage areas safe?

If you require any further information, have a faulty/ unlocked container or would like support in completing a risk assessment of your container storage areas, please contact your Commercial Waste Services account manager. Please see here for our contact details.

You can find information on homelessness in Westminster on the City Council’s website. Alternatively the following organisations can provide further assistance and information around homelessness and rough sleepers.

You can also get a copy of our Sleepsafe leaflet by clicking the button below.