Outcry as York business chains up alcove to prevent homeless man sleeping there

Two of Lara's pictures of the chains on Fetter Lane, York, since taken down
13 Nov 2017 @ 7.57 pm
| News

As temperatures plummet, many people in York are wondering how they can help the increasing numbers of people sleeping rough in the city.

But one city business has caused outcry after putting up chains to prevent a homeless man bedding down next to their property.

The good news is that the chains have been removed after hundreds of residents registered their anger and dismay at the decision.

And a fundraising campaign has raised thousands of pounds in a matter of hours for the homeless man in question.

Lost his place of safety

Another photo of the chains by Lara

Two days ago, York resident Lara Seamer posted these pictures of the chains on to Facebook.

“For the past 18 months or so, we have had a lovely, kind, polite, clean and respectful young man taking shelter in a small alcove like area at the bottom of Fetter Lane, York,” she wrote.

“This is not a residential building where he’s causing any obstruction, he simply shelters for the night in a quiet area so he can read empty rubbish packets and keep himself to himself.”

But then “I became aware that his little area of safety had been chained off with horrific spiked chains so he could no longer access the six foot or so area that he was using to try and keep himself safe.

“This lovely, harmless gentleman had lost his place of safety but also had his sleeping bag taken away from him by the insensitive workmen who were instructed to put up the chains.”

Lara, who is 20, added: “I can honestly say the behaviour and selfishness of people clearly double my age that have caused this suffering for such a kind gentleman is just simply inhuman and totally despicable.”

Widespread anger

Lara Seamer – making a difference

Her account caused widespread anger. Shared more than 4,000 times, it attracted nearly 1,000 comments.

Most of them were expressing despair that someone in the city, who Lara believes has learning disabilities, would be treated this way.

“The chains are so dangerous and are actually sharp. If someone was to fall into them they would certainly do some dangerous damage,” Lara told YorkMix.

Thanks to her campaign, the chains have been removed – although she pointed out they “left the bolts at the side, meaning they could easily be put back on”.

Amazing response

How the location looked like before the chains. Photograph © Google Street View

She also started a fundraising campaign for the man on JustGiving.

Hoping to raise £500, it quickly reached £2,800.

“I was hoping to raise around £500 to get him a bed for the Christmas months and some support, however now we are looking at permanent accommodation,” Lara said.

She also hoped to get him access to training and confidence coaching to turn his life around.

“People are offing beds in their homes, sofas, garages, sheds in their gardens, tents in their gardens, the response has been unreal.”

He and Lara were meeting with Micklegate ward councillor Jonny Crawshaw to see what help he can access.

Lara finished her original post with the words: “Let’s make a difference.” She’s certainly done that.

‘Concern for his safety’

The owners of the building who installed the chains released this statement.

“Queens House is owned by a Helmsley Group syndicate and managed by Stapleton Waterhouse. Occupiers include Langleys Solicitors.

“The individual concerned has been taking shelter outside the back entrance to the property for approximately 12 months. During this time, we have stressed our concern for his safety and wellbeing.

“We sought direction from York homeless charities, The Salvation Army and the Samaritans who all offered assistance, which was refused by the individual.

“City of York Council served a notice on the individual for anti-social behaviour, following complaints from staff using Queens House and nearby residents.

“The chains placed in the area have been removed and we continue to work with the local authority to support this individual.”