Anguish for desperate homeless group whose tents were torched

Homeless Richard Barry, Jusy Ball and Jason Reid (front) with the charred remains of their possessions. Pictured with them are friends Duaine Asher, Darren Hall and Julie Kavanagh.
Homeless Richard Barry, Jusy Ball and Jason Reid (front) with the charred remains of their possessions. Pictured with them are friends Duaine Asher, Darren Hall and Julie Kavanagh.

A DESPERATE group of homeless people who had resorted to living in tents in the town centre had all of their meagre possessions torched on Wednesday.

The group, who had set up camp on land in St Catherine’s Road, Grantham, are devastated by the attack on their tents, which they set up in the town centre several weeks ago.

Judy Ball, 40, spent her first night sleeping rough in Grantham when she was just 11 years old.

She cried as she told the Journal: “I feel absolutely devastated. What can they gain from burning my home down? My whole life was in there.”

Judy, who was stabbed in December by a robber who tried to steal her bag, said it was hard enough being homeless when she had a tent to sleep in but now she has nothing.

She said: “It’s freezing. I wake up in the night crying. I don’t care about material stuff - I just don’t want to die.”

Richard Barry was also living in the tents. He has been homeless in Grantham for over 10 years.

It is not the first time he has been targetted - last year he awoke to discover yobs had started a fire in the doorway he was sleeping in.

He said: “You get used to being homeless. It’s just another day. I’ve given up trying to get a home.

“The only break I get is in prison but I wouldn’t get sent there on purpose.”

Jason Reid, 40, has been homeless on and off since he was 16-years-old. He set up the tented community in St Catherine’s Road.

He said: “I was just trying to sort things out until I have something more permanent. But I’ve got absolutely nowhere with getting a home.”

Jason said he tries to look out for all of his friends but he is now struggling to look after himself. He said many of them have turned to drink so that they pass out at night and do not feel the cold. It was so cold this week that frost was forming on the inside of the tents.

Ruby Stuckey, who co-ordinates the Grantham Passage, a charity which provides food and support for homeless people, said attempts are being made to find the group a home.

She said: “The tent business is a worry. I’m disgusted that someone could do that to somebody so vulnerable. It’s been a worry that we don’t have emergency accommodation in Grantham, so if something like this happens they can’t get a bed for a night in a hostel.”

Mrs Stuckey said the homeless problem in Grantham extends further than this, as many people are sleeping on friend’s sofas.

Grantham Passage provides food for homeless people at four locations in town. At just one of the locations an average of 27 meals are served daily.

A spokesman for South Kesteven District Council said: “We have not recently been aware of anyone sleeping rough.”