Homeless squatters continue battle

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Homeless man in Chester. Pic © Hannah Martin JMU Journalism

A group of homeless individuals protesting what they claim is a lack of housing and available help have now moved on to their third building occupation.

The Chester group began by occupying council-owned building, Hamilton House, in the city centre on September 30.

Up to 30 rough sleepers managed to barricade themselves inside until District Judge Ian Sanderson said the council was entitled to “immediate possession”.

The eviction date fell on World Homeless Day, 10 days after the occupation began. Reports say the squatters left peacefully.

After the departure from Hamilton House, around 15 members of the group moved on to Diocesan House and Raymond House, after mistakenly believing it was owned by a public body.

It turned out that the buildings were privately-owned and the protesters assured that this was a mistake on their behalf and issued an apology to the owners.

Wayne Lammond, the unofficial spokesman of the squatters, told JMU Journalism about the decision to occupy Chester buildings.

Youtube: Hannah Martin

He said: “Since I’ve been on the streets the services to help us haven’t been good enough, we’re being denied help every day.

“Since we started this protest, the council are trying to say they’ll do more but it’s still not enough. It’s too little too late and to be honest we don’t trust them anymore.

“There needs to be more social housing, there is nowhere near enough. As soon as it started getting colder and wetter, we started thinking about all the buildings lying empty and it went from there.”

JMU Journalism contacted Chester Council for comment but received no response.

In a press release, Councillor Richard Beacham said: “There is no quick fix – there is a queue for beds in supported housing and for more permanent social housing too. We are always looking for properties to house homeless people. If you are a landlord and have properties available then please get in touch.

“Clearly this is a complex issue, and like everyone else we don’t want people to have to live on our streets.”

Members of public have shown their support by offering donations and protesting outside the squats for homeless rights.

Ian Birch, 57, from Chester has been showing his support since the group moved in to Hamilton House. He said: “I stand in solidarity with them all, there are a lot less services available now thanks to austerity. A society is nothing if it ignores its most vulnerable. Shame on us.”

About Hannah Martin, JMU Journalism