VIDEO: '˜City' of tents springs up for Sheffield's homeless
A camp for homeless people has been set up outside the undeveloped section of Park Hill flats.
Known as Sheffield Tent City, the cluster of tents on a grassy section outside the flats on South Street has been growing for the last two weeks.
There are currently 13 tents and 17 people staying at the camp where tents, food, water and basic amenities are given out to Sheffield's rough sleepers.
Donations have poured in from food banks, homeless charities, individual do-gooders and the residents of the newly developed section of Park Hill.
Father-of-four and Tent City Organiser Anthony Cunningham, aged 31, grew up in Park Hill and has long been raising money and awareness for the homeless.
He believes that in setting up the camp he has made it easier for rough sleepers to have somewhere to turn to as well as for charities and services to find the people who need their help.
Regarding homelessness, he said: “We can blame everyone until the cows come home but unless we are going to solve it ourselves - like a true people power - nothing’s ever going to change.”
Four people were rehoused on Tuesday and Anthony hoped four more will be helped today.
One rough sleeper who has benefited from Anthony’s camp is Steve Storer, aged 38.
Almost exactly a year ago, Steve’s 7-year-old son John was hit and killed by a car in their hometown of Oxford.
Steve’s wife and four other children reminded him so much of ‘J’ that Steve became unable to cope with the grief.
“I lost the plot,” he said.
Steve has been homeless in Sheffield for the last seven months but after spending some time at Tent City has now been told he will be able to move into private accommodation.
Having an address means he will be able to apply for jobs so that he can pay the rent.
Commenting on Anthony, Steve said: “He is an amazing guy. I would not have thought there’d be anyone like that.”
Anthony believes he could provide for up to 100 people like Steve if necessary.
But there are some who worry about the camp growing to such a size.
Lily, aged 32, who has lived in Park Hill since May and walks past Tent City on her way to work, said at the moment the camp ‘doesn’t affect me in any way’.
She added: “It would concern me if it massively grew. I have seen people wandering around so think they go to the toilet in the bushes. This would obviously be a problem if the camp gets a lot bigger.”
Anthony is hoping to have some portaloos donated to the camp soon, but for the moment the campers simply keep the area tidy and hygienic with regular litter picks and clean-ups.
Anthony has not registered as a charity and is not planning on doing so either. He believes the red tape associated with having an official organisation ‘would stop us doing what we need to do’.
He said: “It’s about the people who are here right now getting the help and support that they need.”
Anthony posts about the Tent City on its dedicated Facebook page.
James Atkinson, operational manager of Sheffield’s rough sleeper service Turning Point, said: “We’re out in the city centre all the time speaking to people who are sleeping rough and offering help and support. We never stop trying to provide accommodation for anyone that needs it and there are lots of different services that help people who are sleeping rough or homeless.
"The council has lots of services helping people in different ways with different needs.”
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are committed to doing everything possible to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so in Sheffield.
“The organisers of the Park Hill tents are now working with us and we are moving the people who were sleeping rough there into more secure accommodation. We continue to offer this support until the situation is resolved.
“If you want to help then there are also lots of local charities involved in tackling homelessness.”
The council’s rough sleeper service can be contacted on 0114 263 6964.
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