Christ Church Seeks To Rehouse Occupants of Tent Village

Rough sleepers unwilling to take up offers of alternative accommodation

The encampment outside the Church on Turnham Green
The encampment outside the Church on Turnham Green. Picture Christ Church W4


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Attempts by a Church in Chiswick to persuade a group of rough sleepers to move an encampment away from their building has so far proven to be unsuccessful.

Tent villages have become a common sight near Christ Church in Turnham Green, and had been tolerated, but recently it became necessary to ask the current group to move on to allow building work to take place. Essential stone masonry work is required to address damp issues which will require scaffolding to be erected directly above the camp compromising the safety of the residents.

All the rough sleepers have been offered alternative accommodation but are choosing to continue to live in the tents and, when first approached six weeks ago about moving on, they were reportedly quite aggressive. Attempts by the council’s Outreach team and homeless charities to persuade them to accept offers of rehousing have proven unsuccessful although the Church expressed its gratitude for their efforts.

Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran has visited the site and according to a spokesperson for Christ Church ‘has been brilliant' in work he has done in mobilising various council departments to resolve the situation.

In a statement the Church said, ““Christ Church W4 are also particularly concerned about the welfare of the occupants and wish to ensure their safety. The situation poses some hygiene problems and potential safeguarding risks to the many children’s and youth activities that happen in the church throughout the week. In addition, the Church needs to access the area for scheduled safety maintenance work on the walls.

“Over the past 6 weeks, many efforts have been made to resolve the situation, as well as Christ Church W4's own commitment to supporting those struggling with homelessness through the Shelter programme. Christ Church W4 have liaised with and sought the advice of colleagues in the Diocese of London, Hounslow Council, the police and a number of homeless charities.

“These efforts have included working closely with charities, who have offered to help find these individuals a safe place to call home. Unfortunately, these offers have not been taken up as of yet. It is nonetheless hoped that this dialogue leads to a more positive and constructive solution, one that provides a safe, permanent and suitable place for them to be.”

Prior to the pandemic, Christ Church participated in the Shelter Project as one of 10 Churches in the borough invited rough sleepers to stay the night from December to January.

Cedric, a volunteer at the Church, with beds laid out for rough sleepers Cedric, a volunteer at the Church, with beds laid out for rough sleepers

Nicola Moy, who is a vicar at the Church, approached the residents of encampment in the last few days and found them to be more amenable.

The Church does have a legal option if it wants to get the encampment removed but has said it wishes to resolve the matter sensitively.

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March 29, 2022

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