Northampton

More than 1,000 sign Northampton 'tent city' petition

Homeless person in a tent Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The petition says that the campsite would provide safety and security for homeless people in Northampton

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for a campsite for rough sleepers to be set up in a town.

Homelessness in Northampton has doubled between 2017 and 2018, according to the borough council.

The petition urged the authority to set up a safe site with cooking facilities and running water.

Dagmar King, who started the petition, said rough sleepers "needed shelter and safety", but homeless support services said it was not the answer.

Jason, who has been homeless for 18 months, said a campsite would make users feel safer by providing "strength in numbers".

"It gets all the people in tents in one spot, on land that's not being used, rather than in doorways and graveyards," he said.

But he did praise the council's night shelter which was set up in February 2017 on St Andrew's Road.

Over 300 men have stayed there since it opened and the council said two thirds of them have moved into housing.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Supporters of the campsite say it is needed for rough sleepers to have shelter during the daytime

Ms King said that homeless people still needed somewhere to use during the day where they "can look after themselves, develop a routine and not feel like they have to cause a nuisance in the town centre".

Councillors were presented with the petition on Monday, but homelessness agencies in the town do not support the idea and said "proper housing was key".

Last month a homelessness panel set up by the council recommended they adopt a "housing first" model.

It gives rough sleepers a permanent home of their own as soon as possible, then provides them with the help they need, such as addiction support, or training and education.

The policy has been hailed a success in places like Finland, and Manchester and the West Midlands are set to run a pilot scheme.

The panel's report will be presented to the council's cabinet in July.

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