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WWYD Homeless Camp

(24 Posts)
WhatToDoPleaseHelp Sat 14-Jan-17 20:58:30

I've name changed for this as it could be identifying. I have changed a few details for the same reason but nothing material.

I walk my dogs on council owned common ground. It's a really popular place so very busy. To give you an idea of the layout; think very large field with a number of copses inside fences.

I recently found a couple living in tents in one of the cops. I got chatting (not entirely by choice but was being polite - it's too cold to stand around at the moment!) and the man was very keen to make clear he's a church goer, they're a married couple etc. None of this mattered at all to me but I get the impression he wanted to make it clear he was a good guy. In that conversation he also mentioned that they were using gas burners (I warned him about the dangers of using them in tents) and how quickly they run out, that they’d been there for months and also that they need a lantern light (he thought my dog's glowing ball was one) and how hard it was to get hot drinks. This things were slid in.

Few days later dogs insists on going over to them and won't come when called. Bit unusual. I couldn't get away without a quick talk and there was something about "surprised not to see you sooner".

I felt very sorry for them in the cold and when I came across some old blankets I took them over to the couple. It was about midday and they were drinking. Dogs were on the lead so couldn't go over although he clearly wanted to.

So today: I kept the dogs on the lead until well past. They then ran over to the camp as if they were called and wouldn't come - I had to go get them. And once again got in conversation. Well, I say conversation but it was only a very few minutes and during that time I was asked to bring hot drinks and bottles of water. I was very non committal. Very strong smell of alcohol and I think there’s another person now living there in his tent.

So here is the WWYD. I suspect they are calling dogs over/giving them food to get the owners there. I have no proof, just suspicion. When there they are very nice and trying to get you to give them things/spend money. I don't have a problem with people drinking or having a little treat but when you're having to ask others to buy you basics (water) then it doesn't seem right. I have already decided that they won't be getting anything further from me (I've clearly been marked as a sucker after the blankets and as I’m on Jobseekers I really can’t afford to help anyway. ) But while it isn’t easy for me I can see that and say no. I’m sure I’m not the only one there that they will be doing this to. I know of at least one SN man who walks his dog there - he’s always trying to give me produce from his allotment so if they got chatting to him they could hit a goldmine. I am sure that if they said they needed X he would get it for them, he just doesn’t have good judgement.

So what, if anything, should I do? Thanks for reading and TIA for your help.

WhatToDoPleaseHelp Sat 14-Jan-17 20:59:50

Wow that's long - sorry! Was trying to make sure I didn't drip feed.

MrsBellefleur Sat 14-Jan-17 21:03:59

Call 101 and have a chat with the police, call the councils homeless department and have a chat to them as well, maybe stop walking the dog there for a while.

dangermouseisace Sat 14-Jan-17 21:08:46

I'd get in touch with your local homelessness charity that does outreach and make sure they know that they are there. They probably do, but you never know.

Other than that it's a hard one- if I was street homeless I think I'd want to be pissed all the time to be honest. Maybe you just have to be honest with their requests and say sorry you can't help them. They might tell you to fuck off but that's probably the worst thing that could happen.

AndNowItsSeven Sat 14-Jan-17 21:12:01

No don't report them all that will happen is their tent will be confiscated and they will be on the streets under a cardboard box.
If I was homeless I would want to be drunk also. You sound very judgmental.

dangermouseisace Sat 14-Jan-17 21:13:31

homelessness charity won't confiscate their tent, mind.

AndNowItsSeven Sat 14-Jan-17 21:14:34

I meant 101 - the police or council would take the te tabd " move them on".

AndNowItsSeven Sat 14-Jan-17 21:14:43

*the tent.

Cherrysoup Sat 14-Jan-17 21:21:00

Don't think the OP sounds judgemental at all, I think she's been very nice taking blankets. I'd be very pissed off at the dog being fed. I would report to 101 and walk the dog elsewhere.

Stripyhoglets Sat 14-Jan-17 21:23:17

Council should have a homeless outreach team. Tell them and then walk your dog elsewhere for a bit. I wouldn't tell the police though

user1484226561 Sat 14-Jan-17 21:24:01

call street link

user1484226561 Sat 14-Jan-17 21:25:17

and train your dogs to come when called

Blink1982 Sat 14-Jan-17 21:26:19

I don't think she was judgemental. She sounds like she wants oo help but can't in the way that they want.

mrsmuddlepies Sat 14-Jan-17 21:53:42

In my experience, the local police and council are tolerant about the occasional homeless person who does not want hostel accommodation. They might offer help from the severe weather team. If the numbers start to grow however they may close it down.
Ring 101 or get in touch with the community police. Their primary concern will be the well being of individuals. I have been surprised by the kindness of both community groups and organisations such as the police towards the homeless.
Many homeless people reject hostel accommodation because of drunkeness and drug taking. They would rather live independently.

WhatToDoPleaseHelp Sat 14-Jan-17 22:21:49

Thank you for your thoughts, especially Mrs Muddles and those of you who didn’t assume the worst of me.

To clarify; I mentioned the alcohol because I didn’t want to drip feed and it is often relevant in these cases. The fact that they are needing others to buy them things (while they have alcohol available) and that it can influence hostels suggests it may be in this case. They were definitely pushing for me to provide items. As I say, I have no problem with people drinking provided it does not harm others. If they are using their influence to persuade people to buy them things so that they can use their money for alcohol I do think that has the potential for harm.

Speaking of which… yes, I have already decided to keep my dogs (and myself) away from there as far as possible. It’s not actually me I’m concerned for, while not fun, I can deal with it. My concern is that there are other people who I am worried will be getting exploited. In an ideal world I would be able to help everybody, give these people what they want so there is no need for them to approach more vulnerable members of society. I do not live in that world and I am concerned for certain others.

Oh and user148, my dogs DO usually come - that’s why I think they may be being fed or even held there. This isn’t their normal behavior which suggests something not normal is going on.

Thanks again for all the good advice.

melj1213 Sat 14-Jan-17 22:27:30

I would definitely ring 101 at the very least - they are harrassing you and potentially other, more vulnerable, people too.

It would be one thing if you were walking the dog and they tried to engage you in conversation and ask for help as you wer passing and you could just excuse yourself, but they are manipulating the situation so don't have a choice. By calling your dogs, or enticing them over, they are forcing you to interact with them whether you want to or not and you're effectively a captive audience until you can get your dogs back.

Even if I wanted to help them initially, and was more than willing to give what I could, when I could, the expectaion and demanding behaviour would make me stop any help altogether - you don't get to demand what help I give you when I know nothing about you and you keep forcing interactions.

And for the PP who said to teach them better recall, my parents dog is great at recall ... but sometimes, if the other person is offering treats she will ignore anyone except the person with the food. because she's greedy and will do anything for food.

WhatToDoPleaseHelp Sat 14-Jan-17 22:29:40

Thanks Melj, I hadn't looked at it quite that way. Some very good points.

Twogoats Sat 14-Jan-17 22:34:36

It's far too cold to be 'camping'. They need to be moved on for their own safety.

hefzi Sun 15-Jan-17 10:36:57

Does your council have a "no second night out" policy? If so, the phone number attached won't trigger eg the police showing up etc

The SN gentleman you mention in your OP - does he live with anyone you could mention it to? I understand your concerns for him in this.

Katy07 Sun 15-Jan-17 10:44:38

I think you need to report them to someone - you can keep your dogs away but I'd definitely be bothered on behalf of the SN man you mentioned. I'm autistic and I know I get sucked into helping people because I think it's the right thing to do and don't know how to say no if it's sprung on me - if that's how I am and I'm what would probably be described as being on the high-functioning end (I dislike that term but hopefully it makes my point here) then I can see someone who's more prone to being sucked in being used and taken advantage of. No doubt there will be posters saying you're selfish etc. but it's not - it's keeping an eye out for someone else.

user1484226561 Sun 15-Jan-17 17:47:37

like I said up thread, call street link they will help if there is any help available, not the police. The police are not in a position to offer accommodation to those who don't have it.

The sad fact is, there plain and simple isn't any, in lots of places, and people are sleeping rough because there is no where for them to go, at all.

Try and react to them as you would hope someone would react if it were your son, one day.

emmyrose2000 Mon 16-Jan-17 01:18:07

I'd be very concerned about the SN man too, and if there was some way of talking to him and/or a family member/carer I'd do so. The homeless couple sound like they could be quite manipulative, and it'd be awful for them to take advantage of someone with SN.

I've no idea why being a church goer would (automatically) make someone a good guy. Some of the worst people I know are church goers.

WhatToDoPleaseHelp Thu 19-Jan-17 23:34:07

Tell you what User148, I'll go set fire to their tents just to confirm what you think about me. And while I do that how about you imagine that it's YOUR son being exploited?

My thanks to all the other posters who have made helpful suggestions. I'm trying to find a way that doesn't involve these people getting evicted, I've suggested in the past that people camp there because it's a safe place and I don't want these people to do something that means anyone who camps there gets turfed off.

At the moment I'm trying to track down the SN guy. It's difficult because there are a few dog walks around here and we neither of us have set times. I don't know where he lives. I have tried going when I've seen him most frequently but with no luck so far (and it's to cold to hang around for more than half an hour). I'm planning to get him to help me with some "friends" of mine; they claim to be friends but are always asking for stuff. Should I consider them friends or are they maybe using me? I'd be interested to know if you think that would work. I certainly have no intention of telling him what he can or can't do, he's a grown man capable of making his own decisions. But I do want him to be aware that not everyone is as they seem and that you should sometimes question motives. He seems lonely and wants to be friends with everyone so I think there is a high risk.

My aim is to find a solution that suits everyone, whether or not that is possible I don't know. I don't want them to get evicted or other people not being allowed there. But neither do I want him or anyone else to be exploited. I've seen too many stories in the news where someone with SN is taken advantage of and the cry goes up "Why did no one do stop this?". I don't want him to become a statistic. And even if I can warn him away there may well be other victims.

As always, sensible suggestions welcomed. Ones that basically accuse me of being a heartless bitch aren't.

user1484226561 Fri 20-Jan-17 18:53:14

when did I accuse you of being a heartless bitch? When did I say y son would never be homeless? Which post exactly did I not give you helpful information?

You are weird, and trying to track down and interfere with some guy you think has SEN is also weird, and nothing to do with you.

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