Fareham residents accuse council of clearing up vital items donated to homeless

ANGRY residents are demanding answers from the council after accusing staff of ‘clearing up’ items donated to the homeless over Christmas.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 3:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 4:04 pm

A Fareham community group had distributed items including, sleeping bags, clothes and toiletries to people living on the town’s streets as part of a festive meal for the homeless which had been hosted by the Duke of Connaught's Social Club.

However, after revisiting some of the homeless people who received help, organiser Julie Sexton, 60, was shocked to be told that items had been taken from them.

Julie said: ‘I just don’t understand why this has been done. Yes, items may have been temporarily left while people went to get a coffee but some of these gifts such as the sleeping bags can be the difference between life and death over the cold winter months. This is all they have - at least give people some warning so they can gather items together.’

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Some of the items donated and distributed to homeless people in Fareham over Christmas.

Shane Davies, who helped distribute the items and runs the iMBiZO Cafe which provides meals to the homeless, said: ‘I’m currently working with around 20 people who are living on the town’s streets. Six months ago people who were living behind Argos had there items removed and they have said their belongings were once again cleared up last week. It’s not just residents who donated these items but also local stores and businesses. It’s annoying that items given in good faith have now been removed.’

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In recent years Fareham Borough Council have made a concerted effort to get people off the streets of the town centre and to make use of hostels such as the Two Saints.

Anne Boyce, who also supported the donation initiative, said: ‘There are a lot of people in the hostel recovering from drug addiction and many homeless people don’t want to go there.’

The council has responded to the accusation of residents by stressingit doesn’t knowingly remove people’s property although it does dispose of anything which would be considered a health risk.

Cllr Trevor Cartwright, executive member for health and public protection said: ‘The council does not regularly remove any personal possessions belonging to rough sleepers in Fareham, although it does remove rubbish, including drug paraphernalia and soiled bedding that, if left, would represent a public health risk.

‘Outreach workers do however regularly patrol the streets advising rough sleepers to keep their belongings with them as they could be removed by the council if left unattended.’

The council also said that any items removed are held in its offices and can be collected within 14 days.

Cllr Cartwright added: ‘The council is part of Fareham StreetAid, a network of organisations which work together to ensure support is provided to support for people who are homeless. We also have to balance the needs of our residents and visitors who expect us to keep the borough clean and safe.’