Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Rough sleepers moved on - a response

May 21 2009
This reasons the church and council gave for move-ons ring no bells for a reader Dear Editor,

I was very interested to read your piece regarding the church in Marylebone, as I was one of the people who slept there. Of particular interest was the reason given for moving people on - complaints about drinkers. This reason disturbs me as at no time was it given to anyone who was staying at the church.

At the time, the church was maintaining that it was as a result of pressure from the council that we were being asked to move on, while the council was claiming that it was the church that requested the move. But no side mentioned drinking. Out of the eight people who slept there regularly, only two were drinkers, one of whom would drink one can before bedding down, and not every night, while the other would do his drinking in Regent's Park and come back to the church to sleep.

I and some of the others never drank at the church at all. On occasions during the summer there would be a gathering of local youths in the gardens attached to the church and sometimes they would drink. But this should not have been attributed to the people sleeping at the front. I was sleeping at the Church for about 20 months and not once was any member of the public physically or verbally abused, nor were any of the people sleeping there begging or in any way pestering members of the public.

The Homeless Persons Unit [of the Metropolitan Police] visited every few weeks and never had any cause for concern with anyone at the Church. Of the eight of us who were regular sleepers at the Church, only three are currently in accommodation: two in a hostel and one in a rolling shelter where he has been since last October/November. The rest of us are still on the street as we are not interested in hostel accommodation.

Steve, full name supplied