Rough sleepers in Gants Hill Station subway face eviction

PUBLISHED: 11:14 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:14 15 February 2017

A homeless person in Gants Hill station subway: Photo: Saghir Bashir

A homeless person in Gants Hill station subway: Photo: Saghir Bashir

Saghir Bashir

Commuters have spoken out against actions being taken to deter homeless people from sleeping in a station underpass.

A joint effort has seen Redbridge Council and organisations within the voluntary sector offer support to homeless people sleeping in the Gants Hill Station subway.

But residents have called the Community Protection Notices put up in the subway, warning that the council will take action to move on people sleeping rough, and a gate installed within a shop’s doorway, harsh.

Commenting on Twitter on Tuesday, Michelle Bayley said: “This gate has been put in last 24 hours to stop homeless at Gants Hill sleeping in the gap. How does this help anyone?”

But a council spokesman said the authority has been working with the police and charities – Salvation Army, Single Homeless Project and Welcome Centre – to address the issue.

He said: “Outreach workers have been trying to engage those sleeping in the underpass so we can provide help and support.

“Indeed, two individuals were referred to a specialist homeless persons unit and have moved into accommodation.”

Welcome Centre manager, Sonia Lynch added: “My understanding is that there are now only two people there.

“A third person is not actually sleeping rough but is begging. They are refusing services offered to them.

“But we are all going out together to visit them on Thursday morning.”

Saghir Bashir, 39, of The Drive, Ilford, uses the underpass when travelling into central London.

He said: “TfL put tannoys on saying ‘don’t give money to those people’ – how demoralising is that?”

On the social media site Streetlife people also complained about aggressive begging.

Peter C said: “I spoke to one of the staff about the problem one morning after returning late one evening from town and being asked aggressively for money.”

Linda J added: “I have used Gant’s Hill station for many years and I now hate it.”

The spokesman added that once voluntary sector support is exhausted the council will move people on and dispose of any non-personal items.

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