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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Graveyards open for town homeless
Tents in graveyard
Tents have been pitched in a Suffolk graveyard
Churches in a Suffolk town have opened their graveyards to provide camping space for homeless people.

Tents and sleeping bags are being provided by a resource centre to cope with increasing numbers of people sleeping rough in Ipswich.

One homeless man said about 500 people were sleeping rough in the town with up to 50 people using one graveyard.

Ipswich Borough councillor Steve Wells said council evidence showed the homeless problem was not that bad.

A homeless man called Steve, who has stayed in one graveyard in the town, said: "You see them come out at night mainly - between 500 and 600 people on the streets of Ipswich.

"There are three or four of us who sleep in a two-man tent.

Short-term measure

"In a graveyard, there can be up to 50 people in one evening."

Mr Wells said: "We have emergency direct access beds which are specifically designed for people sleeping rough so that if they come to us we can put them up overnight and then start to work with them.

"We only have a 30% occupancy rate on those beds so while of course there are people sleeping rough we do genuinely believe there are only a small number of consistent rough sleepers."

The Rt Rev Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said providing access to graveyards was only a short-term measure.

He said: "I think churches are very good at that sort of thing, spotting where there are problems and where people do need help, and doing it very well and usually doing it very quietly.

"I think... that this is obviously short-term immediate help and there's a bigger problem to be addressed."

Demands for more social housing
13 Jun 06 |  England
Homelessness on rise says report
18 Sep 05 |  Suffolk

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