Homeless protesters driven from Castlefield site after city council ‘issue notice’

Manchester City Council has threatened to shut down homeless camps across the city centre as Homeless Rights for Justice campaigners have relocated to the Castlefield Bowl.

The council has issued notice to vacate both the Castlefield and St. Ann’s Square sites on the grounds that the camp is ‘an extension or satellite of the homeless camp on St Ann’s Square’, according to a statement from RAPAR a Manchester-based human rights organisation supporting the homeless camp,

They statement says the council have also threatened possession of the sites and an injunction banning further homeless camps anywhere in the city centre if the campers did not vacate by Friday June 19, which they did not.

Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, said: “An injunction preventing someone from entering an area is, by its very nature, an interference of one’s civil liberties and should only be granted sparingly.

“It is unclear what type of injunction the Council will seek. Any such injunction will restrict the movements of the person injuncted and is a very serious matter.”

Street homeless people, who have been protesting since April 15, moved camp last Wednesday as a result of disturbances caused by alcohol in St Ann’s Square.

One young homeless man explained: “Other long term homeless people, with alcohol issues, began to join the camp in St Ann’s Square and it became more and more rowdy, especially at night.

“The whole point is to have a collective of homeless people, not individuals in doorways, and to campaign about homelessness while, at the same time, being actually physically safe. 

“But homeless people with severe alcohol issues need help that we, as a group of homeless people ourselves, cannot give them without support from proper agencies.”

There is a general feeling in the camp that the protest has been let down by a lack of activity from support agencies which target many of the causal issues of long-term homelessness.

A young woman who has been with the protest since its inception added: “Since we set up in Albert Square, not a single Manchester based alcohol, drug or mental health agency has offered help to us – a group of street homeless people trying to be a collective.

“We’ve had massive support from the public but the only officials who have come to us have been environmental health, police community support and the housing outreach team. 

“Alcohol, drugs and mental health are all key issues in homelessness, but we haven’t had any help with any of them.”

The Homeless Rights for Justice Campaign began on April 15 with a march to Manchester Town Hall protesting about homelessness in the city. 

Since then, camp residents have been forced to move from Albert Square and from outside Central Library in St Peter’s Square after Manchester City Council went to court to seek eviction orders.

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