Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

Dozens rally in support of Manchester homeless camp as D-Day looms

Dozens rally in support of Manchester homeless camp as D-Day looms

| By Catherine Teague

Dozens of people attended a rally in Manchester yesterday to show support for a homeless camp set up in one of the city's main squares.

The rally, outside Manchester City Library in St Peter’s Square, was led by those who have taken up residence in tents around the corner in Albert Square and was also attended by supporters and representatives from RAPAR, the Manchester-based human rights organisation.

The show of solidarity was staged ahead of the camp inhabitant’s court appeal against eviction, due to take place on Thursday at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.  

The rally attracted approximately 60 members of the passing public and several speakers took to the stage, including members of the protest camp, as well as RAPAR spokeswoman Dr Rhetta Moran.

The protest camp, which was set up on April 15, stated their aim was to raise awareness about the unfairness of Manchester City Council’s homelessness policy and lack of support for them.

Dr Moran spoke to the public on several occasions describing the homeless camp's possible eviction as 'social cleansing'.

She said: "We have to stop this homelessness and this is the beginning of it through the bravery of the people at the camp and the people who are supporting them."

A 17 year-old girl from Manchester also spoke, declaring to the public that although she was not homeless, she had pledged her support to the camp residents and had been with them throughout.

This was followed by a comment from a member of the public who shouted out, ‘Where’s Richard Leese?'.

The leader of Manchester City Council was not present to respond, but has been criticised because of the millions of pounds of budget cuts that have been agreed for Manchester, heavily affecting a range of services, including those for adults.

The rally continued for over two hours, watched on by a few police officers and two G4S security officers, who have been employed by the library since the start of this month.

Manchester City Library have been accused of discrimination for refusing access to homeless people.

In response to this claim, Manchester City Council published an open letter on their website by Deputy Chief Executive, Sarah Todd stating: “We have never enforced a general ban on homeless people from entering the library.

"Instead, we have been forced to ban members of the protest group which has camped outside on St Peter’s Square after they stormed the library on two occasions with the intention of occupying the building.”