'Someone had to do something': Five friends team up to clean Northampton churchyard of used needles and tents

Friends Dave, Adele, Lisa and Kieran.
Friends Dave, Adele, Lisa and Kieran.

A Northampton churchyard has been cleared of tents and used needles by five friends who say they 'got fed up of looking at it'.

The graveyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Sheep Street, was vacated by a camp of rough sleepers in January - leaving behind piles of tents, rubbish and syringes.

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But on Saturday (January 2), a team of five friends - some of whom have experienced homelessness themselves - arrived at the churchyard armed with gloves and sharps boxes to clear away the mess themselves.

One of the five friends, Aaron 'AJ' Jones - who has been living at the nearby Oasis House homelessness support service for nearly a year - took matters into his own hands when he got tired of seeing the remains of the camp every day.

He said: "It's embarrassing. I just got tired of looking at it every day. It was disgraceful and just disgusting.

"We got fed up of seeing it getting worse and worse. Then one day we just thought 'someone has to do something here'.

Five friends from Oasis House cleaned up the Holy Sepulchre churchyard.

Five friends from Oasis House cleaned up the Holy Sepulchre churchyard.

Over the next four hours, AJ and his friends - Dave, Adele, Lisa and Kieran - piled the rubbish into the abandoned tents and dragged them out to the kerb.

Then, they picked the graveyard clear of used syringes and disposed of them in sharps boxes using heavy duty gloves.

The stacked tents and rubbish bags were taken away by environmental services contractors Veolia on Monday.

AJ said: "I think it's an absolutely great thing to do for the church to let people stay there. But people should show respect in return for it.

The group spent four hours clearing away the churchyard.

The group spent four hours clearing away the churchyard.

"Not all homeless people leave that kind of mess behind. It's like a minority making a bad name for the majority."

It comes after Veolia cleared away a similar encampment from the land known as 'Rat Island' on Tuesday.

The mess was left behind by a camp of rough sleepers.

The mess was left behind by a camp of rough sleepers.

They stacked the rubbish into the abandoned tents and dragged them to the kerb.

They stacked the rubbish into the abandoned tents and dragged them to the kerb.

The churchyard, now cleared of the camp's remains.

The churchyard, now cleared of the camp's remains.