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Monday, April 22, 2024

Ealing’s tent ‘village’ disperses: Uncertainty surrounds fate of rough sleepers

For months a recognisable sight for residents of Ealing Broadway walking past the civic centre was a crowd of tents that blocked its entrance. Mountains of possessions, makeshift shelters and temporary houses made up the mini-tent ‘village’, which appeared to be populated by Ealing’s homeless people.

However, in recent weeks, the front of the building has been cleared with some possessions sitting across Longfield Avenue and a tent filled with rubbish dumped on the pavement of New Broadway. Local Democracy Reporting Service has been monitoring the entrance to the council offices attending the site a week before it was cleared on February 22, speaking with those who had taken shelter there.

It is unclear what happened to each of the individuals staying there but LDRS was informed by a neighbour in the area that they had witnessed a lot of activity on February 27, a day before we returned to the council building.

LDRS contacted Ealing Council to get a better understanding of what had happened, highlighting the tent near the council building that appeared to be the only remnant of the tents we had seen on previous visits. The council has said that no force was used to remove rough sleepers and they left voluntarily.

Svetla is sleeping outside Ealing Council for Christmas. Image: Rory Bennett.

Stationed on the freshly cleared stairs leading up to the council’s offices, where once there had been carpets and bed sheets hanging from railings, was a security guard who declined to speak to LDRS when approached.  Over several visits to the camp, LDRS met with Svetla Getova who spent her Christmas sleeping outside the council offices.

She had come to the front of the building in early November and had been a consistent feature in LDRS’s visits to the site until mid-January. Her fate is unclear.

A council’s spokesperson said: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets in Ealing. Our outreach workers approached the rough sleepers who had set up camp outside Perceval House on an almost daily basis, to check their welfare and offer help, but for an extended period, they chose not to take up the offer.”

“The people who had been sleeping in tents outside Perceval House have moved on at various points over the last three weeks. Some of them have accepted offers of accommodation while others have moved into healthcare settings. A few individuals took their tents with them, and we secured the belongings of the others until they can come and collect them.

“We will continue to make sure our council buildings are safe and secure for staff and those who need help.

“If you see anyone sleeping rough in the borough, please report it to Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 so that our outreach team can respond quickly.”

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