Homeless set up camp in town centre gardens

homeless set up camp in town centre gardens - Homeless set up camp in town centre gardens

Homeless people have set up makeshift camp in tents on a town centre garden in Weston-super-Mare.

Tents have popped up on the Italian Gardens on the High Street in recent days, despite North Somerset Council working to support those who find themselves homeless.

The authority has been working, as part of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ campaign, to ensure all those who were homeless have a roof over their head during lockdown.

Across the country, the Government funded councils to pay to put people without homes into hotels temporarily, to ensure that no one was unable to “stay at home” because they didn’t have one.

homeless set up camp in town centre gardens 2 - Homeless set up camp in town centre gardens
Tents at the Italian Gardens in Weston-super-Mare
(Image: Nicholas Page Hayman)

Those on the streets were offered hotel rooms or other accommodation such as bedsits or rooms in shared houses or hostels.

The situation in the seaside resort has been made worse due to the fact that the town’s night assessment unit – had to stop offering beds for up to 10 homeless people a night – due to social distancing guidelines.

The day centre, also operated by Somewhere to Go, remains open to offer people hot meals and support.

Despite measures in place, some people continuing to sleep rough, putting up the tents on the Italian Gardens.

It is likely those sleeping outside will be moved on from the gardens and be offered help elsewhere.

North Somerset Council has continued the Everyone In campaign since it launched at the start of the first lockdown in March.

North Somerset Council spokeswoman Zoe Briffitt said: “North Somerset Council’s Homeless Prevention Team have continued the “Everyone In” initiative that began in March of this year.

“Anyone rough sleeping is made an offer of accommodation, a full housing assessment , a personalised housing plan and will have a named officer within the homeless prevention team as well as a dedicated outreach worker at YMCA.

“Those who may rough sleep but have alternative accommodation available to them are supported to return.

Mrs Briffitt added: “ Breaking the cycle of high risk behaviour is key to our holistic support as we are aware the issue for many is not just around housing or lack of accommodation.”

“Some people sleeping rough do not wish to engage with housing services or take up offers of accommodation, however our outreach service will still continue to facilitate engagement in the hope that when the person is ready they will take up offers of support and accommodation.

“We work with other hotel and accommodation owners and hostel managers who are keen to help, especially throughout the winter months.

“We also have a registered provider (housing association) whose team are experienced working with those who have multiple or complex support needs and have suitable accommodation.”

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The council says it has been working with various agencies in the town including drug and alcohol support charity We are With You, Community Matrons, Start to Finish as well as commissioning the YMCA for outreach services.

The issue of homelessness in the town hit the headlines in 2018 when many people with nowhere to go were forced to sleep in the Victorian shelters on the seafront in plunging temperatures.

As a result, the town saw a growing movement of people keen to provide services to ensure no one was on the streets in winter.

The night shelter used to operate during the winter months, but due to demand moved to an all year round operation last year.

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