Kettering homeless set up unauthorised camp in church grounds

The number of tents in the grounds of St Peter and St Paul's church has increased in recent weeks.
The number of tents in the grounds of St Peter and St Paul's church has increased in recent weeks.

A tented encampment of rough sleepers has set up in a church in Kettering town centre.

Five homeless people have now made St Peter and St Paul’s church yard in Market Place their home in the past two weeks.

The town’s homeless population has been growing in recent months as people are losing their private rentals and unable to find somewhere to live.

Reverend David Walsh said the church, which runs a soup kitchen for rough sleepers, was trying to work with the council – who has a responsibility to try and reduce rough sleeping.

He said: “There are there without our permission. We have started to have a conversation with the council about this and we will be hopefully working with our partners and the people to find a way forward.

“The current situation cannot go on indefinitely. There have been a number of tents for a few weeks. One tent has been there discreetly for a while and that has been kind of fine as we do have a responsibility to look after people. Now there are more people we need to be working with them and others to find a solution.”

The latest figures reported to Kettering council’s audit committee last week showed that the authority is receiving 25 approaches from people and families who are homeless each week.

The authority has been able to house all families and said it does not currently have any families in bed and breakfast accommodation and people are not being offered accommodation that is outside of the borough.

In an official spot check last autumn the council reported there were 17 people sleeping on the town’s streets.

In March, the authority received £62,000 from the government’s rough sleepers initiative which will pay for an outreach worker and a supported accommodation project. Two properties will be provided for rough sleepers and they will also receive intensive advice and assistance from a tenancy support worker to help them get into a new property.

Tented encampments have been established in the past 12 to 18 months across a number of Northamptonshire towns. There is a camp in Corby woodland and churchyards in Northampton are also home to rough sleepers.