VIDEO – Council’s new Tent City neighbours

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A growing group of homeless people in Doncaster have set up another Tent City in town only weeks after the first one near the old Civic Theatre site closed down.

A patch of ground next to the local Council offices in Waterdale has been taken over by an ever growing number of tents.

Phillip Hartley at Tent City 2

Phillip Hartley at Tent City 2

On site was Phillip Hartley, a 33-year-old former homeless man who now provides food on a daily basis for the Tent City homeless through a scheme he set up with friend Mick Gurnhill, called Donny Scran Van.

He said: “I am on site as much as possible to ensure these people get a good daily meal.”

Phillip, who now has a home in Barlby, added: “I also try to ensure this site is peaceful and no one comes onto the site such as drug dealers. Spice is a big problem at the moment among the homeless and I don’t want anyone here to use this. I also try to help these people into the housing system with advice.”

He said he wanted to help the homeless in this way as he knew what it was like to be on the streets and it helped him to sleep at night knowing that he had helped.

He further added: “I helped to set up the first and second Tent City areas as I had seen how successful they were in Leeds and Hull. The council is currently trying to evict us from this site.”

Doncaster Council chief executive, Jo Miller, said: “Yesterday we made offers of accommodation to everyone from the tents who presented themselves to homelessness services for support. Subsequently, several of these individuals did not then occupy the beds made available for them, choosing instead to stay at the tented protest site. This denied the opportunity of beds to other people who may have needed them.

“We have been made aware of incidents of disorder at the tented protest site, and had reports from hard-working local businesses and their customers feeling intimidated by antisocial behaviour emanating from some people who they say are associated with this tented protest.

“We are also aware that several people in and around the tented protest are not actually homeless despite claims otherwise on social media, and we are seeing worrying signs of drug and alcohol misuse, and young children on the site. When the organisers unilaterally set up the original tented protest site last year, we had serious welfare concerns relating to drug and alcohol use and disorder. For all of these reasons, we have served notice to have the new tented protest site disbanded so similar issues do not occur this time round, putting vulnerable people unnecessarily at risk and causing harm to local businesses and their customers.

“Our work as agencies to support those who need and want help is unrelenting. We have established a team across different services to provide support and help to those who need it most. People can be reassured that if they do become homeless, and regardless of how complex their problems, the council together with its partners can provide them with the support that matches their needs. We are aware that some members of the public may feel compelled to help directly but we would ask that they consider other ways to do this so we are not allowing an unsafe and unstable situation to continue.”