The deputy leader of Wrexham Council has warned that “sooner or later” the situation with the homeless encampment on on the Groves site will have to ‘change’ – with a number of agencies currently working to engage and support those sleeping there.
The warning features as part of an public update on the situation at the Groves, posted on behalf of Wrexham Community Safety Partnership today. We have written previously about an update that was circulated to Councillors last week, plus what we read in a private document we were shown – more here.
The homeless encampment on the grounds of the school have been well-documented both locally and nationally since the camp was set up at the end of July.
At the time Wrexham Council said they were ‘tolerating the situation‘, however with the weather turning and winter on its way, there have been increased calls from campaigners for further action to be taken to help those on the site.
Concerns about how long the encampment will be on the site for have been raised by residents in nearby properties.
In the update posted today it is noted that Wrexham Council, police, health and charity workers are “continuing to work together to try and manage substance misuse and homelessness in Wrexham”.
The statement continues onto say: “A small group of people on the former Groves site has been the focal point in recent weeks, with outreach workers continuing to engage them.
“Security patrols are also continuing day and night to help keep the site and building safe, while police continue to respond to calls and patrol the area.
“Over the past week, a couple of tents have been spotted on other parts of the site – away from the small managed area close to Chester Road where the majority of tents are situated.
It adds: “Outreach workers have been out to talk with the people in these tents, who are homeless, and are trying to help them find accommodation.
“The majority of people sleeping on the site are continuing to stay in the area close to Chester Road.”
There have been various numbers circulating online as to how many people are staying on the site, with Wrexham Council today saying that the numbers overnight have remained around 10 or less – however these figures have varied during the day.
In August 2017 Wrexham Council said it was ‘tolerating’ the situation at the Groves; seeing it as an opportunity to work with its partners to try and manage the situation to help the individuals involved.
However the update statement posted online today makes it clear that the encampment at the Groves ‘isn’t a permanent arrangement’.
Cllr Hugh Jones, Wrexham Council’s lead member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, said: “The council and its partners are tolerating the situation while we try to engage the people on site and get them the support they need.
“Most of them have complex needs, including substance misuse, and we’re trying to persuade them to accept help, rather than just push them – and the problem – straight on to another part of town.
“However, it’s important to reiterate this isn’t a permanent arrangement.
“The site isn’t suitable and it’s not a good situation for anyone – including the people sleeping there, or nearby residents who are understandably worried.
“Sooner or later the situation will have to change, but it’ll have to be done properly…and we’re trying to engage as many people as possible on-site before that happens.”