Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Shunning the shelter

July 10 2009
Luther Street hostel director is addressing concerns abut alcohol Four people have chosen to set up camp near a stream in Oxford rather than use the city's shelter facility. Pat Kelly, Shamen Hazzard, Dawn Lovell and a man known as Les claimed fighting and the temptations of drinking and drug abuse have forced them out of the Luther Street hostel and into tents for their makeshift home. Mr Kelly said: "I wouldn't go into the night shelter. You can't get to sleep there. I have tried but it was a waste of time." The four live with their eight dogs and cook over a campfire. They use nearby shower and toilet facilities in the Gap Project building in Oxford's Park End Street. Ms Lovell said: "I don't like the night shelter because of all the fighting and the drugs, and you can't get to sleep. We are all happy here. This is a place we can get off the drink. At the night shelter, all the other homeless keep saying have a drink, and if you don't, you're not part of the crowd." But shelter director Lesley Dewhurst denied claims that life in the hostel was harder than those in other cities. "There are people who use drugs and behave badly, but the staff act when they see these problems. We exclude trouble makers," she said. "Many people not staying at the shelter drink at the front of the building. It's on a back-alley, so the police don't see the problems. But we're building a new yard out the front that will only be accessible to people staying at the shelter. It will be ready by the end of April and it will make it easier for the police to move people on, as they'll be able to single out those not staying here."