‘Wrong ally’: Greens urge homeless film fest to boycott MMU over The Ark evictions

A local Green candidate has urged the Homeless Film Festival to do the ‘right thing’ and cut its ties with the university.

A Green party representative is leading calls for the Homeless Film Festival to cancel its planned visit to Manchester Metropolitan University.

Deyika Nzeribe, Green candidate for Hulme, makes this plea after action taken against The Ark, a ‘well-organised’ homeless shelter, by the university in recent weeks.

Mr Nzeribe, Hulme resident and Green Party campaigner, said: “While we recognize the good work that the Homeless Film Festival are doing and have done, it is just wrong for them to ally themselves with MMU, who have aggressively pursued and evicted the Ark homeless camp twice in the last few months.

“It was a well organised shelter, which was doing a lot to raise awareness of homelessness and to provide support for vulnerable people.”

The shelter, set up in August on land leased by the university underneath the Mancunian Way flyover, was transformed into a camp by homeless.

It was complete with tents, camp-beds and various other facilities, a lot of which was donated by the general public.

However, as a result of a high court order obtained by the university and Manchester City Council, the shelter has been subject to controversial police raids.

Eye witnesses claimed possessions were thrown into skips and rough sleepers were aggressively dragged from the site.

Mr Nzeribe added: “On the back of this ‘partnership’, MMU will be able to use Homeless Film Festival as an example of the good work it’s doing for the homeless, to cover up what it’s actually doing on the ground.

“Homeless Film Festival should do the right thing and boycott the MMU venues.”

The festival, established in 2011, uses the film industry as a means of highlighting the issue of homelessness, and provides homeless people with opportunities to become involved in creative projects.

Festival organisers say the visit will go ahead as planned, with a series of events taking place across the city between November 1 and 14, hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University.

A spokesperson for the festival said: “By cancelling any screenings at MMU it will deprive the students and staff an opportunity to engage with local, national and global issues regarding homelessness, including those on The Ark site on Oxford Road.”

Last month, Manchester City Council denied any wrong-doing in evicting people from the Oxford Road shelter.

Councillor Nigel Murphy said: “The injunction has been taken out to deal with the protest camps which have been causing disruption to residents and businesses in the city centre for five months, and to stop them from simply moving from one site to another.

“It would be entirely inaccurate to claim our injunction is aimed at cracking down on people who are forced to sleep rough in the city.”

Image courtesy of Matthew Wilkinson, with thanks.

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