PLANS to ban tents and fine charities that hand them out to homeless people have been met with utter disdain from a local organisation - who labelled the plans to make the ‘lifesaving’ pieces of equipment illegal ‘bizarre’.
Last week, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman proposed the new laws that would place tighter restrictions on the use of tents by homeless people.
Describing the use of tents by the homeless as a ‘lifestyle choice’, Braverman’s plan would see those in England and Wales face penalties if they are believed to reject help.
She added: “The British people are compassionate.
“We will always support those who are genuinely homeless.
“But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.”
The ‘bizarre’ proposals left Adie Flute, who runs the Rucksack Project in Barnsley which aims to help the homeless and those sleeping rough, ‘lost for words’.
He told the Chronicle: “The proposals to crack down on homeless people using tents is bizarre.
“Included in the new proposed laws is that they’re going to fine charities who hand them out.
“The government aren’t talking about ways to solve the problems, but instead trying to further harm those that are trying to get help.
“It’s somewhat ridiculous.
“There are place in Sheffield and Leeds with a tent community but it’s just not the same in Barnsley.”
Every year around 2,000 people go through Barnsley’s homeless service - with around 60 to 80 complex cases at any one time.
But these figures are believed to be lower than reality due to the number of people who don’t want to engage with services.
Adie said the timing of the new plans is also a serious issue.
“It’s strange that she’s put this out when we’re going into the winter season,” he added.
“The tents will literally save lives - they’ll help protect people from the weather conditions.
“But yet she wants to make this illegal.
“It makes you question what’s next.
“It’s punishment for these people who are already in horrific situations.
“I’m lost for words.”
But it won’t stop Adie and other organisations across Barnsley taking in donations over the coming months - and he’s teamed up with the Barnsley FC Community Trust, the club’s official charity, to help support more people.
He added: “Barnsley FC Community Trust have been a big supporter of Barnsley’s Rucksack Project right from the start, over ten years ago.
“Partnerships with the fantastic organisations, businesses, schools and colleges around the Barnsley area have been absolutely vital in the project’s aims of raising awareness about homelessness and poverty issues, supporting local and national homeless charities, and directly helping those who are worst off within Barnsley, through the supply of clothing, food and supplies.
“Since day one we have seen an incredible level of support and donations that’s flooded in via the club and community trust, and I’m continuously amazed at the efforts of the club, trust and supporters who go above and beyond year after year.”
The indoor training centre at Oakwell, at the end of Grove Street, will be used as a designated drop-off zone for donations.
The organisation is asking for rucksacks, camping mats, sleeping bags, food and drink - among other items.
Kieron Campbell, head of foundation at the Barnsley FC Community Trust, added: “We are thrilled to once again extend our support to the Barnsley Rucksack Project.
“We are committed to playing our part by designating our facility as a nominated drop-off point for much-needed donations.
“Keep an eye on our social media pages for updates on what items you can donate and when.
“Together, we can make a meaningful difference.”