MEMBERS of Wrexham’s homeless community have spoken of their experiences living on the streets.
Several from the community have set up camp at the old Groves school – a situation which is being tolerated by Wrexham Council as it allows health and third sector outreach workers to engage with them.
Members of the camp, which has grown in size in recent weeks, spoke to the Leader about their day-to-day experiences of life on the street in Wrexham.
Ian Fanning, 53, said: “One of the problems we have here is a lot of the services you can stay in the night-time but there’s nothing in the day time to do.
“I’ve been on the streets here now about two months.”
Regarding the support offered, he said: “I can use the night shelter as long as there’s less than 16 people in there.
“They are trying to do the best they can with people but they are overwhelmed.
“They can’t be open in the daytime unless you’ve got appointments, so basically people are left on the street day in, day out – getting harassed by enforcement officers.
“We definitely need somewhere to go.
“At the moment there’s nothing on offer.”
Last week, the council said it would discourage the public from making donations directly to homeless people – but one group has said it will still do so.
A Wrexham Council spokesman said giving money and food to homeless people living at the Groves might mean they use it to buy drugs and the donations remove the incentive to work with agencies which are trying to help them.
The advice from the council is to contact Ty Croeso in Grosvenor Road, which is run by homeless charity The Wallich, to find out how they can help.
But Tracey Jones, who runs the Help Wrexham Homeless Facebook group with Nicola Price and Angie Hammons, said she did not understand the council’s advice and that the group will continue to drop off donations of food and clothing to the site.
Mr Fanning added: “They give us support and food. They stand up for you at the council.
“If it wasn’t for the likes of these ladies, things could be much harder.
“There’s more and more people on the street now and everyone is getting treated the same.
“If you look around we’ve got loads of empty buildings going to rack and ruin – if they could be done up into cheap accommodation at least money would be coming back into the community.”
David Lines, 33, told the Leader he has lived on the streets of Wrexham for three weeks and is struggling to see a doctor in order to get medication for his anxiety.
He said: “I have not been able to register with a doctor. I need to get off the streets because mental health and being on the streets doesn’t mix well.
“My anxiety is getting worse and worse as the days go on.”
Wayne Palmer, 44, said: “I’m living on the streets and that has been on and off for 11-and-a-half years.
“I have been in Wrexham three years now.
“I have walked all around the coast of England, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Wight.”
He added: “I have been told there’s 200 properties in Wrexham empty at the moment – they can convert them into one-beds and make use of them for the homeless.
“Why are they staying empty?”
A Wrexham Council spokesman said: “The current use of the Groves is well-known and we know that people want to do what they can to help out.
“Some people have already set up collections of supplies, food and money to support the vulnerable people currently on the site.
“We completely understand and respect people’s drive to help out those in need.
“After all, the service users and vulnerable people involved are human beings and it’s only natural that people want to help.”
They added: “But it is strongly advised you not give food or money directly to those in need.
“It might help them in the shorter term, but in the longer term, it means they have money to spend on drugs, which only locks them in to a dangerous and damaging habit – and nobody wants that.
“And if they get money and food from members of the public, there’s no incentive for them to engage with agencies that can support them long-term.
“Instead, consider giving what support you can to a charity which has the resources and expertise needed to help these individuals and tackle these problems in the long-term.”
See full story in the Leader