November 23, 2017 at 8:40 am #140816
There is a story on BBC today http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42057173 about a homeless person in Middlesborough – but worth everyone who has issues about what is happening in Wrexham as it may give you an insight into what life could be like for some of out local homeless,,
‘I asked to go to jail, rather than stay homeless’
Bradley’s anti-social behaviour order prevents him from “loitering” near businesses
Banned from begging and sleeping in shop doorways in Middlesbrough, Bradley Grimes asked the judge in court to send him to prison rather than leave him homeless. What effect did it have?
“All they’ve done is placed an anti-social behaviour order on me to try and stop me from begging. But I have to in order to survive,” Bradley Grimes tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
He became homeless after leaving the care system aged 17.
With autism and, in his own words, the mental age of a “young child”, he was unable to find work and frequently turned to begging – asking passers-by for food and money at the side of a busy street.
But this led to Middlesbrough Council giving him an anti-social behaviour order, or Asbo.
It came with a condition banning him from “loitering” outside business premises.
Bradley says it prevented him from “basically sitting outside a shop” and sleeping in doorways for warmth, and meant he was continually arrested.
“CCTV picks you up and they dispatch either the police or street wardens. If police come, you’re arrested,” explains Bradley, who’s now 23.
He says he attracted the authorities’ attention for sitting rested against a bus stop.
Bradley Grimes at bus stop
Bradley says he was once arrested while sitting rested against this bus stop
“It got to the stage where they were locking me up once or twice a day, for a period of a few months.
“I was in [prison] pretty much all weekend, near enough every weekend.
“I can’t even sit on a public bench without being locked up. I have to keep moving.”
Frustrated at his situation, he decided to seek help – albeit in an unusual form.
When in court, charged with breaching a four-month suspended jail sentence – something he admitted to doing – he asked the judge to send him to prison.
This is where Bradley says he often used to sleep, just off the side of a busy road
He hoped it would pave the way to him being found suitable accommodation.
“That’s the last option I had, that I could think of,” he explains.
The judge was sympathetic, and was reported in October this year as saying that “essentially we are locking up a homeless man for being homeless.
“I want him housed somewhere so that his welfare can be looked after.
“It is not good enough for the authorities to turn around and say that it is somebody else’s problem.
“If I were to let you go today the chances are that you would be sitting on a seat or sleeping in a shop doorway and you will be locked up again.”
By November, Bradley was released – with supported accommodation made available.
He had lived in the same building previously, but says he was told to leave after cannabis was found in his room.
Bradley has also had problems with Class A drugs, which he says he used “to take the pain away”.
This time he says he is determined to live clean, and has avoided drugs since his release.
‘Impossible to cope’
Bradley says life can still be tough. In fact, he believes that because of his autism, it was simpler in prison.
“You don’t have to worry about anything in [jail].
“[Whereas on the outside] it’s impossible for me to cope on my own, because I’m bad with things like budget and money.”
When Bradley left prison in Durham, he had just £17 to his name – most of which he used for the train journey back to Middlesbrough.
He has now applied for benefits, which he is waiting to receive, but says his lack of funds over time has had a significant impact on his health.
Bradley has a brain tumour – and suffers with epilepsy and a heart murmur – but says he cannot afford to travel to the specialist cancer centre in Newcastle for treatment.
Homeless man in LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
More than 4,000 people slept rough in England in 2016, government figures suggest. The charity Crisis says this is a significant underestimate.
He says his story could have been different had he been supported sufficiently by the local authority when he first became homeless.
Instead, he claims he was sent from one agency to another.
Middlesbrough Council has not yet responded to request for comment.
While walking around town Bradley spots a friend, a homeless man named Tony who says he cannot get any help at all.
Tony says he has to steal from drug dealers to have enough money to survive.
It is not something Bradley condones, but the desperation behind the act is something he says he understands.
Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.November 24, 2017 at 1:49 am #140906
OK, I’ll bite. Yet again this is a sob story giving only a very one sided view. This individual even acknowledges that he was given accommodation since becoming homeless and lost it again because of being found with drugs in his room. Cannabis may not be the worst of drugs but it stinks and when people smoke it the smell gets into neighbouring residences in a way that simple tobacco smoke does not.
He also admits to taking class A drugs which he claims he used to take the pain away. I am always very sceptical of this claim that the drug taking follows the homelessness, not the other way around.
If I were a homeless drug addict or alcoholic, I would know just what to say to get sympathy from the bleeding hearts. I had a traumatic experience, I have mental health issues, I only take drugs to numb the pain of being homeless, I was unfairly evicted by a ruthless landlord, I know I put myself in this situation but all I need now is a chance, etc.
This person is reporting events from his own point of view only and with his own agenda. My own experience of living in social housing with all of the drug addicts and dealers I lived next to is that they were given chance after chance to mend their ways before being made homeless. This goes on for years, while other neighbours are forced to put up with their behaviour.
On the news the other day I heard Andy Burnham (Mayor of Manchester) announcing an initiative to give hundreds of homeless people social housing – effectively they will be jumping the queue. When asked what he might say to people who’d been on the social housing waiting list for years who are now taking second stage to rough sleepers, he said “The people of Greater Manchester are fair minded, decent, people who can recognise when people are in greater need than they are.”. It sounds to me as if he is completely missing the point – i.e. there are reasons these people became homeless, and it is not necessarily through no fault of their own, or because they have suffered trauma the likes of which the rest of us cannot imagine.
No one WANTS themselves or another person to be homeless. But from this BBC article, to me it feels as if people like me are invisible – we should be happy with our lot of living next door to druggies, because our suffering due to them pales into insignificance next to their suffering by being made homeless. The problems caused by addicts are ours, not theirs, to bear.
Another news item that actually made me laugh was this: http://www.wrexham.com/news/mp-calls-on-home-office-to-support-work-tackling-antisocial-behaviour-in-wrexham-town-centre-to-140774.html Ian Lucas used the standard line of “This is a complicated issue, and not one which will be solved overnight.”, but what amused me (in a laugh or else you’d cry sort of way) is this: “In Wrexham, particularly since the General Election, I have been working intensively with local council, police and health services to address an acute NPS challenge in the town and we have, collectively, developed an approach which we believe may be useful as a model for other areas of the country with similar issues.”. Apparently Wrexham is a good example of how to deal with NPS drug issues? Did I miss something?
Then there was this: http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/home/2017/11/20/gallery/more-than-30-needles-left-overnight-at-a-wrexham-retail-park-100326/ reporting that more than 30 needles were found behind Heron Foods on Island Green one morning. The Leader reported that the needles were deposited NEXT TO the ‘safe box gadgets’ (i.e. not inside them). I find what Phil Wynn said about this to be astounding. He is quoted as saying: “I’m not surprised to hear about this, they are going to find places off the beaten track. We know we have heroin addicts in Wrexham, some are on the street, we will from time to time come across them … I am not surprised that number of needles was found at one location. The crucial point is it’s up to the land owner to keep it clear … Unfortunately, this is just the symptoms of a drug culture with a small cohort of individuals that are drug users.” First, I’m annoyed at how he places responsibility on the land owners to deal with the consequences of needles discarded by drug addicts, second I’m sick of hearing that this is a “small” cohort (one article I read some months ago but which I can’t find now, said it was a hard core of approx 40 individuals – and that’s just the hard core, not the whole of the problem). But mainly now I notice his “I’m not surprised”, “we know we have heroin addicts in Wrexham”, that we will “from time to time” come across them, and “am not surprised that number of needles was found at one location”. It seems to me that he is trying to convince us that this is to be expected, it’s not newsworthy, that there is nothing to see here and we should just move along.
Being homeless must be dreadful. But living next door to these addicts is also terrible. I would rather that addicts face the negative consequences of their actions than that the rest of us suffer because of them.November 24, 2017 at 8:06 am #140907
Why don’t Wrexham authorities give these people ASBO’s banning them from the town centre?November 24, 2017 at 8:38 am #140908
Because there are already PSPOs in force that are totally ineffective ? Besides, ASBOs seem to be treated as a qualification instead of a punishment these days.November 25, 2017 at 2:46 am #140934
Why don’t Wrexham authorities give these people ASBO’s banning them from the town centre?
Seriously, Nen, I don’t understand your stance on the ‘homeless’ in Wrexham. If others on this forum criticise them you seem happy to shoot those forum members (not just me) down (e.g. “Where do you expect them to go? Many of them have been driven out of their home towns like Rhyl and Chester by a combination of services being cut and banning orders, etc. Give them a break.” Yet other times like this you appear to want them banned from the town centre, or you refer to them as deadbeats and question why they have been given a portaloo.
I’m also intrigued as to why you have Alf from Home & Away as you profile photo.
Complaint? Please use the report post tools or contact Wrexham.com .
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