Homeless told to get off land

Kingfisher'AB1143-1
Kingfisher'AB1143-1

TWO of the keenest homeless volunteers working full-time to keep a pioneering cafe open have been moved on from their tent homes in a field near the centre of Bridlington.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council gave them seven days to get off the land on fields at Sewerby which are council owned.

The deadline expired last Wednesday and after a visit by an official one of them, “Martin” packed up and moved on.

He hasn’t been seen since at the Kingfisher Trust Tea Rooms where he acted as a chef.

The other, “Matt”, moved into temporary accommodation provided by the Trust and has hopes of finding a flat, again sourced and initially paid for by the Trust.

So far, he is continuing to help at the cafe which now has a need for more volunteers.

Both had been faced with legal proceedings to have them removed.

Newly-elected Trust chairman Dave Cooper, said he was saddened by what has happened.

“I see two lads who, for whatever reason have fallen on hard times.

“Through the Kingfisher Trust they had the chance to climb out of the mire and get themselves on the first rung of the ladder.

“Now they have been kicked off that rung.

“One of them has now gone backwards and is almost back to where he was. It is a definite retrograde step and a sad situation for the Trust.”

He said “Martin”, who had worked as a chef at the Tea Rooms, had regained his self-respect and confidence and was making good progress towards finding a job back in society.

“There has been no help from the council. One of them went to see them to see if he could get help and was given a form to fill in. He asked if someone could help him complete it and was told no, and to come back in two days, what kind of help is that,” said Mr Cooper.

The pair - along with one other homeless person who left of his own accord a short time before - had lived in tents on the site for several weeks.

Walkers and other locals had come to know them, and some have given them sleeping bags, bedding, and even food.

According to Mr Cooper their situation is “only the tip of the iceberg” in Bridlington.

The Council said it had visited the camp site two weeks ago after receiving a number of complaints.

A spokesman for East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Officers provided advice and guidance to the occupiers of the three tents about the services available to them and how they could be accessed.

“They were also informed that the land was council-owned and camping there without consent was not permitted and were asked to vacate the field within seven days, one had done so when the council visited the site again last week.

“East Riding of Yorkshire Council offers support and guidance for anyone who is homeless or is worried about becoming homeless. People can present their case by visiting our customer service centres and the council will organise shelter were applicable.”

When asked how many homeless people in the Bridlington area have received temporary or permanent rehousing this year, the council said in a separate statement that the last annual estimate of rough sleeping in the East Riding - carried out in November 2010 -showed that there were 11 people sleeping rough across the authority area, 5 of whom were in Bridlington.

However this was described by the council as just a “snapshot” which did not take into account those at risk of rough sleeping.

The next estimate is due to be undertaken sometime in November.

Rough sleepers are a transient group and few, if any, of the 11 found last year will still be rough sleeping this year.

The Council said since an outreach service was launched in May 2011 they have dealt with about 10 rough sleepers a month directing them to accommodation and other related services to help them to address their immediate needs.

l Last week it was revealed the council had received £308,000 from the government’s Homes and Communities Agency to help it tackle rough sleeping and homelessness, mainly in Bridlington, a recognised hot spot, by taking them off the streets.

It is likely that when suitable premises for conversion into a half-way house for up to nine adults has been found and developed, it will be late next year before it can begin to take people off the streets and give them the support that they need to live their lives independently.