Doncaster Council has paused plans to move a unit to feed the homeless from the marketplace to a ‘tin box’ located in an unlit car park.
Run by a group of volunteers, the group ‘Caring in Doncaster’ provides the borough’s homeless and vulnerable with drop-in food sessions on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Last week the group received a letter from the council demanding that they moved the drop-in sessions from permanent stalls at Doncaster Marketplace to a metal container at a car park located off Chapel Drive.
This comes after the local authority received a number of complaints from market traders over drug use and aggressive begging taking place at the marketplace during the day.
But following complaints from the group and members of the public Doncaster Council has now said they want to pause the plans until they meet with Caring in Doncaster next week.
Among the complaints raised by the Caring in Doncaster are claims that the metal container is not big enough to fit servers, food and those accessing the service, and also contravenes health and safety regulations.
A volunteer for Caring in Doncaster, who did not want to be named, said: “It is a metal container in the far corner of a deserted car park, next to an overflowing bottle bank, with no shelter or service area. With bad weather and dark nights approaching it is completely unsuitable for us to carry on this vital service to the rough sleepers and vulnerable people who need our help.
“It’s a tin box. I understand that the council are caught in the middle with this, but it’s like they’re burying their heads in the sand. We have contacted the other groups and various Market traders to try and find a solution to the problem. There’s a meeting planned for next week.”
Peter Dale, Director of Regeneration and Environment, said: “We are keen to support voluntary activity and we do recognise the good intentions of those groups involved in providing food for people in Doncaster town centre. There are a number of homelessness services available across the borough, including those funded by the council that work hard to provide the help and support needed.
“We have been working with the volunteer groups to find a safe and secure location that allows their service to continue while addressing the concerns of market traders, businesses and residents. However, we have taken the decision to pause the moving of the soup kitchen from its current location until such a time that further discussions can be held with the volunteer groups involved. This is a complex issue and we would urge residents to allow these discussions to take place with the aim of reaching an amicable solution for all involved.”