Charity chief warns of ‘misguided’ attempt to help homeless
St Paul’s protestors invite rough sleepers to squat
Evicted Occupy London protestors are planning to offer vulnerable people places in squats in an attempt to keep them off the streets.
Concerned protestors said as many as 67 people who are homeless or suffering addiction or mental health problems would be offered alternative places to sleep by the Occupy group after police evicted the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday morning.
Homelessness charities and City of London Council have both said homeless people have been camping out with protestors since they moved onto the site in October.
Tammy Samede, an occupier who has been working with rough sleepers attracted to the site, said concern among protestors for vulnerable people was growing as a result of the eviction and pledged to continue to offer support.
‘We are trying very hard to take care of them, but Finsbury Square [the other Occupy site] is very packed. It may be that we have to get them into other buildings.’
Ronan McNern, an Occupy protestor, added: ‘We have a number of squats that people can go to as a temporary measure.’
The news came as proposed legislation to criminalise squatting was expected to be debated in the House of Lords next week.
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of homelessness charity Broadway, warned against the move to encourage squatting: ‘I think this is well intentioned but could harm some [people],’ he said. ‘I would counsel against them doing that.
‘They [vulnerable people] need somewhere that’s stable and supports meeting their needs; and the nature of camps makes these harmful environments for people who will exacerbate their own situations.’
The number of rough sleepers in the City of London rose from 20 in October to 25 in November after the Occupy protest began. No new count has since been done but ‘more than 50’ vulnerable people drawn to the protest have been helped by Broadway - the City of London’s contracted provider of support to rough sleepers - since the camp began on 15 October.