Northampton pensioner campaigns for safe rough sleeper camp in the town... and 1,000 people support her
A campaigning Northampton pensioner who regularly delivers her home-cooked pastries to Northampton's rough sleepers has gathered more than 1,000 names on a petition to set up a safe campsite near the town centre.
Tireless Dagmar King, who is now 72, 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 in March 2017.
Now she is championing a new cause, calling on the borough council to set up a safe campsite for rough sleepers on the edge of the town centre.
The warden-controlled site, she says, should allow homeless inhabitants to come and go as they please and should be equipped with cooking facilities and showers.
Wooden shelters could also be made available at low rent in order to encourage people to gradually get off the streets and keep their belongings safe.
And Mrs King has now gathered more than 1,000 names on a petition to see the scheme made a reality.
She said: "This will go a long way to stop people using the bins in town as a toilet and there will be no need for tents to be in and around the town centre.
"This will make a big difference to our town.
"A regular police presence will keep crime and the selling of drugs to a minimum and make the camp a safe place to live."
Mrs King, from Abington, gathered the names from members of local churches, tea dances and added to them by taking a clipboard around the town centre.
She says she has a groundswell of support for the scheme - including from the rough sleeping population. Mrs King has had countless conversations with rough sleepers over the winter months as she has recently been taking home-baked goods to the various camps around town.
The campsite, she believes, could be set up behind the Westbridge Depot in St James.
Members of an unofficial camp in Abington Street told the Chronicle & Echo in January that they were not willing to engage with the borough council's night shelter because they would not be allowed to drink in there. It is also for men only and pets are not allowed.
However, despite the level of public support, chief executive of the Hope Centre Robin Burgess said he could not support the idea.
"This is a shared view between us and the council, we both feel this is not the way forward," he said.
"If you just accept that homeless people are going to sleep in unsafe and unsightly tent villages we really have given up on any social justice - that these people deserve a proper home.
"The key is about moving people into proper housing."
Mrs King is set to hand her petition into the borough council in the coming days.
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