By Lydia O'Kane
In Ireland, snow of up to 16cm fell in the early hours of Wednesday morning leading the country’s weather service to issue a status red warning - the highest level of alert - for five counties in the east, including the capital Dublin.
Ireland on weather red alert
Irish Prime Minister or Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, "We're facing a severe weather event. We know that the worst is yet to come."
The severe weather could continue as Storm Emma, packing more snow and ice, approaches western England from Portugal and France.
Meanwhile, as people prepare for conditions across Ireland to worsen, homeless and local government agencies are working around the clock to provide assistance and shelter to those sleeping rough.
Helping the Homeless during the extreme weather
One of those agencies is the Peter McVerryTrust, which was set up by Jesuit Fr Peter McVerry with the aim of reducing homelessness and the harm caused by drug misuse and social disadvantage.
The services that the Trust provides include an informal drop-in centre which is the first point of contact for many young homeless people especially those leaving prison, supported temporary accommodation and drug treatment facilities.
Shelter, care and support
Speaking about the current situation, the CEO of the Trust, Pat Doyle said that “as part of the extreme cold weather plan for Dublin and Kildare in Ireland, for example, we’ve brought in additional beds; we took over a sports hall yesterday and we’ve set up 90 camp beds in the sports hall providing people with shelter, three meals and we are offering people the opportunity to stay there for the week until the conditions pass.”
He went on to say that they had 81 people come in from the streets on Tuesday night adding that “everybody coming in is being medically assessed, everybody who’s coming in is being assessed for the their housing needs .”
Keeping an eye on the vulnerable
During this cold snap people are being encouraged to keep an eye on those who are vulnerable. Stressing the importance of vigilance during this extreme weather period, Pat Doyle said that, “people will move further into laneways, further into hedgerows, further into derelict buildings to avoid the snow, but then they’ll be less visible and more at risk, because we need to be monitoring people for hypothermia.”
According to the CEO of the Trust, there is a critical issue with housing in Ireland and a growing homeless population, “so, he said, the two together are not good and as a consequence the figures came out yesterday (Tuesday) we’ve 9,100 homeless in Ireland…”