Charity responds to homeless’ problems

Police at the scene of the homeless camp on Friday

Police at the scene of the homeless camp on Friday

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A CHARITY has defended its services after a town centre homeless community claimed not enough was being done to help them get off the streets.

Around ten individuals are currently living on the site of the old police station, behind Chatsworth Road, Worthing, and they claim Worthing Churches Homeless Projects has not helped them when they asked for help.

The charity, which runs a day centre and four accommodation projects, has a stringent set of conditions which need to be complied with in order to gain access to their services.

These include a willingness to get off the streets, and not to drink alcohol or take drugs once in accommodation.

One member of the community, Graham Byrne, said: “We feel let down by Worthing Churches Homeless Projects.

“I believe I was kicked out because I had insomnia.

“We have a lot of concerns about the situation but we think there is also not enough aftercare when you do get off the streets.”

The charity would not respond to individual complaints due to confidentiality reasons.

Sue Stevens, pr and fund-raising manager at the charity said: “We work with the police, council and other services locally to try and eradicate homelessness in our town.

“However, we have felt the need to formally respond to an accusation of us refusing to work with certain individuals.”

She added: “If people will not engage with our services and will not accept the need for change, wishing to continue their life on the streets or in insecure accommodation, as a charity we will stop them using our drop in services until they accede that changes will improve their lives.

“ This would only be after a few weeks of allowing them to use our services, as we do give them time in the hope they can appreciate what services we have on offer.”

The charity has a long waiting list of people wishing to access their accommodation, and Mrs Stevens said it would be “unfair” to change their policies.

She said: “It would not be fair of us to introduce other people to these services who were not willing to abide by the rules or who could be disruptive in anyway, who could have a direct effect on someone’s recovery.

“Obviously, we cannot say that this would be the case with these particular individuals, but if they have reported we are refusing to work with them I can only assume this is relevant to their situation.

“If they wish to discuss the possibility of returning to our day centre, they should get in touch.”

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said they were aware that homeless people were living at the location.

They said: “We are aware of a number of homeless people who are camping on the site of the old police station, in Union Place, Worthing.

“Officers have been visiting the site daily and speaking to the individuals.

“Nobody has been removed from the site by police.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about the charity’s services can call 01903 832925 or email info@wchp.org.uk