Campaigning Northampton pensioner calls on council to set up day shelter for town's homeless

Dagmar King rounded up 511 signatures when she wanted to install seats at Victoria Street coach station. Now she has a new cause to champion.
Dagmar King rounded up 511 signatures when she wanted to install seats at Victoria Street coach station. Now she has a new cause to champion.

The Northampton pensioner who campaigned for seats to be installed at the town’s wasteland coach station has a new cause - a day shelter for homeless people in Northampton.

Dagmar King managed to get two benches installed at the unsightly Victoria Street National Express stops when she handed a 511-name petition into Northampton Borough Council last March.

Mrs King was fed up with the price of the automatic toilets in Victoria Street and the lack of seating.

Mrs King was fed up with the price of the automatic toilets in Victoria Street and the lack of seating.

But the seasoned campaigner is now championing a new cause.

Mrs King, 71, asked Northampton Borough Council to consider setting up a new day shelter for rough sleepers in the town, as part of a public speaking session at the Guildhall.

The council opened a 20-bed night shelter in St Andrews Road last year, but it is only open to male rough sleepers between 9pm and 9am.

Mrs King said: “There is somewhere for people to go at night, but where do they go after 1pm?

“If they don’t have a home to go to, it’s back to the streets and no shelter.

“This is counter-productive.”

Mrs King, who claims to have carried out a four-month survey among Northampton’s Street sleepers, says the council should fund a small day shelter open between 1.30pm and 6.30pm on weekdays and between 10am and 6pm at the weekend.

It should have "basic accommodation" with a small kitchen and a microwave, books, games and "a place to smoke", she said.

Such a move could also help combat litter, Mrs King added, and would help lessen the amount of bedding and tent paraphernalia left after homeless camps have been vacated in the town.

"This will make our town centre a cheaper and better place to meet up and go shopping with friends," said Dagmar.

Later in the meeting, the council voted in favour of plans to investigate the extent of “hidden homelessness in Northampton" in the form of a report.

It also committed to exploring options for a permanent night shelter in the town that can also cater for women.

Proposing the motion, Councillor Zoe Smith (Lab, Abington) said: “We absolutely have a duty to look after the homeless rough sleepers in our town regardless of their gender or age or sexuality."