Homeless youngsters ‘take over’ Leigh kids play area

ANGRY families have slammed homeless young people who have seemingly taken over a children’s play area.

A pair of rough sleepers, thought to be in their late teens, were spotted in the playground at Bonchurch Park, Leigh.

Parents say they cannot allow their children to play in the park after the homeless pair were abusive and refused to move.

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One furious dad, from Leigh, said: “The homeless couple were sleeping or unconscious in the middle of a children’s’ play area.

“The couple were laying under a duvet and blankets – and surrounded by empty bottles and other rubbish and paraphernalia – next to a bridge young kids climb over.

“The duo ignored bushes and corners of the popular park to plonk themselves right in the middle of a play area.

The 42-year-old added: “My children were shocked and frightened by the couple, who didn’t appear to have any thought about anyone else but themselves. A few families avoided them and left the park as they were there.”

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Marie Lockwards, also from Leigh, said: “We use this park a lot and now don’t want to take our grandchildren there anymore.

“I feel for them as clearly they have nowhere to go but this is not the place, there are hostels and charities and other places.

“We should be able to enjoy the park, we don’t want our children seeing this sort of thing at all.”

The 51-year-old grandmother added: “The council needs to step in and sort these people and give them somewhere to go. We can’t just have people sleeping where they like and taking over children’s play areas.”

“It was thoughtless of them and they should have chosen somewhere more discrete.”

A grandmother-of-three, 71, of Leigh added: “I think it’s sad to see people like this and do feel for them but also feel this behaviour is unacceptable and to make families and children feel so uncomfortable is just not on at all.

“This is a park and play area for everyone and we shouldn’t have to deal with this or be forced to go else where to use a park and play area.

“I hope the council or organisations can help and give these people somewhere to go so we can have our park back.”

A council spokesman said: “Our officers encountered two young adults who had been sleeping at the park and we have made the appropriate support services aware.”

Harp: ‘We’re helping pair’

HOMELESS charity bosses say they are working to support rough sleepers in a park. The team behind Harp, in Southend, say they are aware of the pair in Bonchurch Park, Leigh. A spokesman said: “No one should have to resort to sleeping rough, especially in the midst of a pandemic, and it is particularly heartbreaking when young people are left with no other choice.

“Our Outreach Team is aware of the people sleeping rough in Bonchurch Park and this location will be included in our regular outreach routes. We will continue to offer help to all the rough sleepers that we encounter. “If a member of the public is concerned about someone rough sleeping, the best thing to do is to alert StreetLink via their website, streetlink.org.uk.

“StreetLink will then notify all relevant agencies, including Harp, so that support can be offered as quickly as possible.” The charity in Southend works to offer a range of services to help homeless people and some of the town’s most vulnerable people.”

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