Homeless camp of over 20 tents moves into old Leeds International Pool site in city centre

A camp of more than 20 tents has been set up in a Leeds city centre car park.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 4:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:58 pm
The camp of rough sleepers on Little Queen Street.

Leeds City Council said it has sent outreach workers to the camp on Little Queen Street, near the former site of the Leeds International Pool, after several rough sleepers arrived on Monday.

Mitchell Lyndsey, 23, originally from Morley, was given a hotel room by the council following a stay on the site.

Mitchell became homeless after the breakdown of a relationship and he ended up in a tent for three months.

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He said: "The camp has been a massive help over the last week. I was sleeping behind the Mecca Bingo but kept being moved by the council."

The camp's organiser, David Hedley, said the tents are a "humanitarian camp", not a protest.

He said: "We are here to give people 24-hour care like food, hot drinks, tents and sleeping bags.

"It was minus two degrees Celsius last night and we can't have people dying on the streets.

"We are giving them the help that's needed and if they fall ill we can get them emergency help more quickly than if they are spread out across the city."

David thanked West Yorkshire Police and the council for their help with the people on the site.

He said a few people have been given hotel rooms and one has been given keys to a house since they arrived on the site.

The council confirmed they have sent outreach workers to the site and stressed that there are enough hostel beds for all rough sleepers in Leeds.

A council spokesman said: "We are aware there has been an increase in the number of tents put up on the former International Pool site.

"We are actively working with partners including West Yorkshire Police to liaise with the organisers and other members of our community who are present. We are emphasising the level of support already available in Leeds, which means no person needs to sleep rough and providing every opportunity for people to avail themselves of these facilities.

“We are concerned if those involved, although well intentioned, divert people from making use of the range of support already available in the city. We want to ensure nobody is sleeping in tents, particularly in this cold weather, and are encouraging the organisers to work with us to provide help to those who need it.

“Leeds City Council and our partners are firmly committed to making sure no one needs to sleep rough or beg, and anyone who is homeless or rough sleeping in Leeds can access a wide range of support, including overnight accommodation and access to free food and other provisions.

“The dedicated Safer Leeds Street Support Team safeguards and supports those in need on our streets, linking with a network of businesses, charities and individuals who support the Big Change Leeds, specifically helping those in these circumstances.”

The number of people sleeping rough in Leeds has risen again according to government statistics released today.Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government released today evaluates the extent of rough sleeping in England and provides information based one single night survey of the numbers of people rough sleeping.Statistics show that in 2010, six people were sleeping rough in Leeds, but this number grew year on year. By 2018, data shows 33 people sleeping rough in the city, five times the number in 2010.