A charity in Leamington that supports homeless and vulnerable people have said they will not be opening their soup kitchen tonight (Thursday) due to alleged verbal abuse and drug use nearby.
Helping Hands, which is based in Leamington, works with vulnerable and homeless people in the Warwick district by providing much-needed help through a soup kitchen, skills training and its ‘House2Home’ service, which provides household items that the tenants could not afford to buy themselves.
Helping Hands have a charity shop in Gloucester Street and were due to open their soup kitchen tonight but have taken the decision not to because of concerns about nearby antisocial behaviour.
According to their Facebook post a number of tents have been set up on the graveyard of the All Saints Church, near the charity shop.
Helping Hands have said they have subsequently witnessed ‘verbal abuse, fighting, drug use, drug dealing and stolen goods being passed around’ in the area.
The charity has apologised to the individuals who visit regularly and ‘do not cause any trouble’.
They issued a statement on their Facebook page this morning.
On post said: “We have not taken this decision lightly, but we have decided not to open the Soup Kitchen this evening. We also did not open on Tuesday evening either.
“The reason for this is because opposite our charity shop in the graveyard of All Saints Church, there have been several tents in place for several weeks. Several homeless people have been sleeping there.
“We, of course, are here to help and support these individuals and we will do all we can to help people who are homeless, but what we are not tolerant of is verbal abuse, fighting, drug use, drug dealing and stolen goods been passed around.
“We have a very good view from of our office window and as stated earlier, we have not made this decision without several weeks of observing and watching what has been happening in the area. We have been very patient over a number of weeks, however the noise and the unsociable behaviours is now sadly affecting other businesses on Gloucester Street.
“We’ve had numerous complaints from our neighbours (understandably) and the police have been contacted several times.
“We really value our neighbouring businesses and understand their frustrations. It is not acceptable that some of their customers have cancelled appointments due to feeling intimidated to walk down the street. These small businesses are someone’s livelihood and pays to put food on their own families tables.
“We are not opening tonight to send a message out that we won’t tolerate verbal abuse, drug use and dealing drugs (and the behaviours linked with that) and fighting.
“We can and do of course continue to support people who are trapped in this kind of lifestyle and welcome people coming to ask for help.
“We are so sorry to those individuals who visit and use our services week after week who do not cause any trouble whatsoever. We apologise they have had to miss out this week because of other people’s behaviours.
“We hope you all can understand.
“We will be back open for soup kitchen next week but will update on social media if that changes.”
Warwickshire Police have been contacted for a comment.