Rough sleepers refuse to leave Harecroft Playing Fields in Wisbech despite being offered night shelter

PUBLISHED: 17:29 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:38 02 March 2018

Rough sleeping in Harecroft Road is nothing new, these are images released by police of a rough sleeper den five years ago.

Rough sleeping in Harecroft Road is nothing new, these are images released by police of a rough sleeper den five years ago.

Archant

Rough sleepers at a Wisbech sports field owned by the National Trust are refusing to leave – despite being offered night shelter.

Rough sleeping in Harecroft Road is nothing new, these are images released by police of a rough sleeper den five years ago.Rough sleeping in Harecroft Road is nothing new, these are images released by police of a rough sleeper den five years ago.

Fenland District Council’s (FDC) housing and communities team say they have offered night shelter to rough sleepers who have spent their evenings on Harecroft Playing Fields since October.

The site is owned by the National Trust and leased to sporting groups including Wisbech Rugby Club.

A spokesman for the housing and communities team said: “We have been working with these rough sleepers since October last year via our migrant outreach worker and police and housing options team.

“They are on private land owned by the National Trust and I have been liaising with them about taking action to remove. They are in turn speaking with their tenant to take the action.

“We are visiting the occupants regularly to try to persuade them to take up offers of night shelter and SWEP (severe weather emergency provision) provided by the Ferry Project that we pay for as a statutory responsibility.

“But unfortunately, to date, they do not want to take it up.

“We will continue to work with these people to try and persuade them to accept help.”

Last November, FDC revealed that the number of rough sleepers in Wisbech has doubled since the beginning of the year.

The information was released after the council completed a night time count of rough sleepers in the town.

A council spokesman said: “Information gathered from staff and partners ahead of the count estimated the number of rough sleepers to be 16, with nine being found on the night.

“The findings will now be passed on to the government to help build a national picture of rough sleeping.”

In July, Fenland Council was awarded £86,400 for an outreach project to tackle migrant homelessness and a further £134,897 to expand the Ferry Project’s Wisbech Emergency Night Shelter.

A further £736,000 of government funding was granted earlier this year for the Homelessness Trailblazer project to address homelessness in Wisbech and other towns across the whole of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority area.

Anyone who is homeless or anyone who witnesses signs of rough sleeping can contact the council’s rough sleep support service for help. Call 01354 654321 or email: housingadvice@fenland.gov.uk.

For reporting signs of rough sleeping, callers are asked to provide precise location and what was seen, time and date.

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