A homeless man who was camping in St George’s Church graveyard in Ramsgate has gone missing after his tent was burned to the ground on Monday (November 12).
Church officials say they are ‘deeply concerned’ for the man’s welfare after being unable to contact him although it is understood no-one was harmed by the fire.
A growing number of homeless people have pitched tents in the corner of the graveyard and the church says it is working to help find them alternative accommodation.
Initially one man was sleeping there, with permission, but now there are around six tents and nearby residents say there is a problem with drinking and drugs and intimidating behaviour.
The man, who attended the St George’s remembrance service Sunday, is well known to the church.
His tent ‘exploded,’ according to a witness, on Monday night and was completely destroyed.
Church spokesperson Anna Drew said: “One of the tents that has been pitched in the churchyard burnt down on Monday evening and was attended by police and the fire service.
“The tent’s occupant is well known to the church and we are deeply concerned for his wellbeing, but have so far been unable to contact him to find out how he is.
“No harm came to any individuals, but belongings were lost in the fire. The church has tried to help out with providing some essentials.
“We are continuing to work with the council and police to try to find alternative accommodation for those staying in the churchyard – and the church’s winter night shelter, which we run every year, is due to open very soon.”
Thanet council’s homelessness team, RISE, has visited the site along with PCSOs and staff from the Thanet Community Safety team.
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 on November 19 and run until mid-March.
The project will be in its third year and sees 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.
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.
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
What an awful thing happening on consecrated land. The headstones for loved ones passed burnt and destroyed because tents with heating appliances stored in them exploding. Come on, surely somewhere temporary can be found to house these unfortunate people. A cemetary is not the place.