During the summer Poole Council produced a PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) which, if it is passed, will result in those who sleep rough in Poole being fined £100. This proposal has outraged many Poole residents and churches. Petitions have been signed and letters written, including from Routes to Roots’ Patron, Bishop Karen. In my own letter sent on behalf of R2R I said the following:
“We urge you to think again about No 4 of your proposal which would criminalise homeless people from Poole, for sleeping rough in their own town. Is that really a criminal offence? What I believe is criminal is that this council is allowing very vulnerable people, many of whom have serious health issues, to sleep in such appalling conditions, made worse by the fact that there are no toilet or washing facilities. We would not allow other seriously ill people to sleep in such terrible conditions. However it appears not to be an issue for homeless people many of whom have drug, alcohol or mental health related illnesses.”
If Poole Council is determined to put an end to rough sleeping in Poole, then I believe that they need to find an alternative to simply forcing them out of town to become a problem for someone else!
I believe a night shelter for people with a genuine Poole connection is the answer. Here the homeless would be kept safe and warm with winter coming, and the inclusion of toilet and washing facilities would help them build up their self esteem and feel cared for by their own town!
The Revd Pat Southgate,
Chair of Routes to Roots and Chaplain to the Homeless in Poole