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Readers' plea for support to help rough sleepers in tented village off Stafford Road

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

'Disgraceful, astonishing and sad' - just some of the heartbreaking reactions from Express & Star readers after a tented village was found off Stafford Road.

The camp site.

Thousands of cars pass the camp of tents pitched up among trees and undergrowth off one of the main routes in and out of Wolverhampton.

The Express & Star highlighted the issue this week in a bid to bring awareness as outreach workers came forward to offer support.

We were inundated with messages across Facebook and Twitter from readers horrified at the conditions faced by people.

This week has seen temperatures plummet and snow flurries bring stark conditions.

Reader Dean Clarke posted: “There’s so many buildings that are derelict why in this cold weather can’t they stay there, even just to keep dry?”

Rob Steventon said: “The fifth or sixth largest economy on Earth and we have poor people like this.

“How do the scum up top sleep at night? Mind you, probably in supreme comfort.

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“What a world we live in.”

The model boat at the camp site.

Julie Blakeway said: “There are enough empty buildings in and around Wolverhampton and other cities in England that our government could ploughing funding into to stop this being an issue instead of sending aid abroad all the while!

“Charity starts at home it’s about time our government listened to this.”

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One person asked: “Anywhere I can drop some duvets and pillows off for the homeless? I currently have a boot full and would like to donate them to a homeless charity.”

Another said: “West Midlands in 2019. In the 6th richest economy. I remember when this wasn’t a “thing”. Disgraceful.

Tony Fletcher added: "I'm shocked that this can happen. I feel that cuts to social service support are really biting now and regardless of how these people found themselves in this situation there should be support out there to help them now.

"It's astonishing that people have to live like this. I'm not blaming council workers.

"What can they do when there is so few of them and little resources.

"A long-term plan to first find housing, clean clothes and meals for a month must be a priority and then ongoing support."

In response Mick Shawcross added: "I'd be happy to pay more tax to get these people off the streets. It is so sad"

The site is located near to the Stafford Road, up a muddy path.

It comes after Wolverhampton Council admitted it had an ‘ongoing issue’ with rough sleepers.

A spokesman for the council said: “Members of our outreach team have visited the site on Tuesday and the people there have offers of accommodation open to them - and are aware of the general assistance that is available to them.

“Like most big towns and cities, Wolverhampton does have an ongoing issue with rough sleepers, but we are working hard to address this.

“The council continues to actively work with its partner agencies - P3, Wolverhampton Homes, Recovery Near You, Wolverhampton BID, Church Shelter, SUIT, Good Shepherd, St Georges HUB, Refugee and Migrant Centre, as well as other voluntary groups - to try and find a solution for rough sleepers through support and advice.

“Since April 2018, 16 long-term rough sleepers have been assisted off the streets into accommodation, while more than 20 other people at risk of rough sleeping have had access to support, been given a temporary roof over their heads, and will go on to secure long-term accommodation.”

A resident who is sleeping rough at the camp site said he’s struggling to ‘keep warm’ as temperatures dropped.

The 36-year-old, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “Sometimes we go into a shelter but there is not so much support from the council.

“I was not working. I’ve been in the country for about five years. I was working until six months ago. I lost my job and I’m here now and I’m getting on OK.

“It’s OK and I’m managing to keep warm. I’m trying to get back to work.”

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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