Leeds Tent City organisers start fundraising campaign for ‘homeless shipping container village’

The organisers behind Leeds Tent City have set up a fundraising campaign to create a shipping container village for the homeless.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 3:21 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd February 2019, 4:17 pm
The organisers behind Leeds Tent City have set up a fundraising campaign to create a shipping container village for the homeless. Photo: Vulnerable Citizen Support Go Fund Me page.

They plan to create small homes for the homeless inside unused shipping containers in an area outside the city centre.

The scheme is the brainchild of Hayden Lee Jessop, 27, from Pudsey, who organised the original Tent City in 2016.

He plans for the new initiative to be on a much smaller scale and said it will not be long-term housing for the homeless but a ‘stepping stone’ to help support them into finding permanent accommodation.

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Garry Mackintosh and Haydn Jessop at the 2016 'Tent City' in Leeds.

Mr Jessop said: “I believe people need a stepping stone before they are given a house.

“We will house them and help them with life-skills such as managing bills, paperwork and Universal Credit and then liaise with other services to get them help with things like mental health and addiction.

“It’s about helping them in the short term until they find the right pathway for them.”

Mr Jessop is currently liaising with a local Leeds business about land and containers but the scheme is still in the early stages.

He plans to build three small containers. Two of the spaces will be for housing people and will contain a bathroom, seating area and two beds.

One will be an office ‘hub’ where they can sort paperwork, use a computer and offer workshops for homeless and vulnerable people.

On the Go Fund Me Page, organisers say it will cost between £760-1200 for an empty container.

The organisation, which has rebranded itself as Vulnerable Citizen Support as it applies for charitable status, is hoping to raise £15,000 in total.

Mr Jessop said he aims to house people for a maximum of four to six weeks before they move on and help them access the services they need for support.

He said: “Back in 2016 during Tent City I criticised a lot of organisations but over the last three years I’ve stepped back and observed what other people are doing and apologised.

“It’s been a massive learning process and now we want to take a more professional approach and work with other organisations in Leeds to help people.

“We are deliberately starting small so it’s not an eyesore but also so we can show people it works and then after a few months it could grow.

“We just want to make sure we give homeless people the help they need before they go into long-term accommodation.”

The council confirmed they have not been approached about the scheme at the time of publication.

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for communities, said: "The council and its partners will never actively encourage people to sleep on the streets of Leeds, whether that be in a tent or in any other space.

“However, the council is fully committed to working with all grassroots organisations who are working legally and ethically in assisting in reducing the number of rough sleepers in the city.

“Our new and 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 all support the Big Change Leeds, which is a new way for those concerned about homelessness in our city to contribute in a positive way.”