Wednesday 1st November 2023
Report written by James Smith
First things first, to set the scene, this evening was dark, damp and dingy. We dutifully turned up at Buckley Methodist Church and after some messaging on WhatsApp we finally breached the threshold. We found the team already starting to get prepared for the night ahead. Jo was sandwich making, Trev was on hot drink duty making up flasks of tea, coffee and hot chocolate, and Jack was busy overseeing it all. Before opening the doors for the night we chipped in and made up some bags ready for distribution. The bags this evening consisting of a Rocky bar, a bag of crisps, a bag of select biscuits, either a cheese or ham sandwich, a carton of juice and a bottle of water. After aiding with the nights preparations we garnered some information about possible locations where people might be staying who don't make the trip to visit the drop-in. Tonight there were two or three main places to check out: the entrance porchway at St Mary's, the covered shelf outside one of the gyms in town and some of the greenspaces/parks in the center.
At St Mary's we found that the sheltered entrance area with benches had been security-gated off. How caring and good the church truly is! The homeless only used it at night and didn't leave a mess. We did a lap of the church to see if they were camped in the grounds like they used to be but only found a sleeping bag and cover stashed behind the bins. Further around we found a bag of clothes and bits left by the side of the road! Our next stop of the evening was the window shelf outside one of the gyms in town. This was a known camp location for one particular individual who speaks very little English. He wasn't there either and there was no evidence of anyone staying there (we think he may have been housed). Lastly we did a quick sweep of some of the other previous camp locations where we had previously found people, one of the pocket parks and some doorways. Alas, we didn't find anyone anywhere.
All that was left for us to do was head back to Buckley to drop off our bags and report what we had (or hadn't) found. It's likely that people are staying in the church area at St Mary's still so the BCDP are going to check there later on.