A Ramsgate church which has a growing number of homeless people camping within its grounds says work is being done to try and find accommodation for the group.
Initially one man was sleeping in St George’s churchyard but now there are around six tents and nearby residents say there is a problem with a large group gathering at the site, drinking, taking drugs and intimidating people.
One neighbour said: “There was one homeless man who was given permission to stay a couple of days and he even put a little bit of money in the church funds. He has been there three or four months now.
“But now there seems to be a large group that have moved from the high street to the churchyard and there are parties with drinking and drugs. The police and the council say it is private ground but the church warden is in her 90s so she can’t do anything about it.”
Thanet council’s homelessness team, RISE, has visited the site along with PCSOs and staff from the Thanet Community Safety team.
A council spokesperson said: “We are aware that there is a group of people camping in the grounds of St George’s Church but have not received any specific reports of Anti-Social Behaviour.
“Churchyards are private land and not under the ownership or control of Thanet District Council. The council’s community safety team and local PCSOs have visited the location along with the multi-agency RISE team, which is dedicated to helping people in the district who are rough sleeping.”
The church says it is ‘deeply concerned’ about people being on the street in Thanet, especially now the winter is here.
A spokesperson said: “St George’s aims to be a welcoming and safe place for all who come through our gates. For while, we have provided a relatively safe haven for a small number of rough sleepers who have been camping in our churchyard.
“This was only ever intended to be a temporary measure and we are aware that there have been a number of problems with the behaviour of individuals. We take this matter very seriously and are working with Thanet council and police to ensure rehousing of those camping in St George’s Churchyard.
“We are grateful for the public’s support in this process. We are deeply concerned about the problem of homelessness in our area – rehousing people swiftly and safely is crucial, especially as the winter months continue.”
The problem is not restricted to St George’s with reports of people sleeping in Pierremont Park, Broadstairs and on beaches in Margate and Westgate as well as others sleeping rough without tents across the district.
Many residents have been so concerned that they have launched their own appeals to get tents, clothing and food for those that need it.
Sleeping on the streets in Thanet
|Year||Number of persons confirmed as sleeping rough in Thanet|
According to Thanet council leader Bob Bayford data from October 3 (2018) showed 40 people reported as sleeping rough in Thanet. These figures come from head counts at certain points in the year meaning the true number could be much higher.
RISE – Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment – is a partnership between Porchlight, Thanet District Council, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and the Forward Trust. The project also involves the Thanet Winter Shelter, Salvation Army and Paramount Independent Property Services.
The aim of the scheme, which was launched on October 10 to coincide with World Homelessness Day, is for those in need to get support and help as quickly as possible, taking away the time spent making contact and referrals to other organisations. It also considers the way rough sleepers access support – which can often be too overwhelming if services are offered from different places.
Thanet Winter Shelter
The Thanet Winter Shelter project, run by Thanet council, Ramsgate Salvation Army and Aspire with DWP and Porchlight, is due to open at the end of November and run until mid-March.
The project will be in its third year and involves church halls in Margate and Ramsgate opening their doors to those sleeping on the street to offer a bed, clothes and food.
A key aim is to better equip guests to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation and to provide practical pathways for training and employment. Unique to Thanet’s Winter Shelter is engaging with Kent’s Mental Health practitioners to ensure guests are referred to the most appropriate primary care/charity sector services for their needs.
Find out more about the winter shelter here
If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping you can notify streetlink at www.streetlink.org.uk
Call 24 hour free Porchlight phone helpline 0800 567 7699 or from a mobile on 0300 365 7699.
Wednesday 9.30am-12pm Margate Gateway
Tuesday 2pm-4pm GAP Baptist Church, Broadstairs
As I said before why doesn’t the council buy the disused accommodation block at the old Christ Church university in Westwood Road. I think it’s on the market for £5 million. That sounds a good price to me. There is no need in this day and age for all the homeless that we now see.
I think it’s a shame that unsubstantiated claims have been made against these people. My home is 10 metres from the tents and I haven’t heard a peep out of them all summer. Parties?! Complete nonsense. Unless there was a rave on the one night I went away in August – they must have done a good job of tidying up by the Sunday in time for my return. Whilst some of them may be drug users or drinkers I’ve certainly not been intimidated by anyone – daytime or nighttime. There’s been street-drinking and drug dealing going on in this church yard for years but that is well known to pre-date this camp of rough sleepers. I’d be the first to report it to the police and council if there was any trouble but there’s been nothing of the sort from the campers. Only polite, respectful people who have kept the area tidy and quiet. I hope they find somewhere warmer for the winter though. Flytipping and missed refuse collections are more of an issue on this street than antisocial behaviour from rough sleepers.
Not sure it is the campers being accused of bad behaviour, rather a group that has been congregating there. Think the main thing is that the church is working to help with accommodation rather than just trying to evict them as so often happens
You all fail to see that these people have been given chance after chance after chance and all your efforts get thrown back in your faces each and every time, buy drugs constantly drinking that doesn’t sound like a vulnerable person to me, Kathy bails Jason Turner was and is none of the above but even I’ll health and deteriorating mental health problems but is getting no help, your all scum
You’re, no your.
To be fair Jason you told me you did not want me to do the article with you after I had spent time trying to get a response from the appropriate organisation
How can it be that a church warden in their 90s can still be employable. This person should be long enjoying retirement. Or is it a volunteer position. The church or ownwers should pull their finger out and deal with the anti social behaviour. And more should be done to tackle homelessness.
No Kathy you took sides with the third world doctors from the beacon whom happened to fail me and many others, my counsellor has been waiting for contact with you as he has a lot of information on the same idiots at the beacon whom have failed many of his clients, but why would you wanna change the way in which they operate with impunity fail vulnerable people regardless of the information in their possession
That’s fine you help the junkies and alcoholics they deserve help with housing forget about the vulnerable people with heart related health issues and obvious mental health issues, der my bad
Yes they are homeless and need somewhere to stay and have chosen the church grounds. However they are camped on top of graves, rubbish everywhere and to keep the tents up they have put tent poles into the tombstones desecrating them. They have no morals or shame.
Do you really think the dead would mind? Churchyards are peaceful places. From what read it is not the homeless being a nuisance but local youth
Paulholdaway@porchlight.org.uk 07919396795 absolutely broke all the rules regarding his role as a support worker, shared private information wrote a letter which in fact condemned me to homelessness didn’t have any other intentions but to harm my case, as I notice that he never actually paid attention to anything i said, endangered my suicidal disposition drove me to hack my arm burn my other arm, friday I had so many people out looking for me life boats while balancing on Dover cliffs, I called police and got sectioned on a 136,but let out Saturday with promises of help but as of yet none, so I’m being left to end my own life it seems , but you help the junkies / alcoholics whom put their self’s in that situation
But plenty of benefits money for alcohol / spice / crack/ heroine / you name it, dirty scum society no longer needs burn them all
I have severe depression and mental health issues as well as severe heart related issues recently made homeless Porchlight Paulholdaway@porchlight.org.uk wrote I’m a danger to myself to other people and also property? I’m paying for hotel myself as I wouldn’t survive one night in these temperatures have prioritised as I would rather have a safe place to sleep rather than crack / alcohol which I could do and become as “helpless” as these destitute people whom spent their benefits money on said drugs / drink, destitute my ass
You people are absolutely misguided in thinking these people unable to help their self’s,, its unfair as real people get overlooked with real issues, losing their property because they spent rent on drugs isn’t their fault??? Liar.. So let them OD and drink their self’s to death and give taxpayers hard working individuals a break from this fake news, they done it to their self’s!!