Homeless camp on Spalding wasteland

Homeless Ben Chapman beside his tent - the tarpaulin (right) provides shelter for homeless Artur Dismanis. SG190816-113TW
Homeless Ben Chapman beside his tent - the tarpaulin (right) provides shelter for homeless Artur Dismanis. SG190816-113TW
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Two homeless men are living on waste ground in Spalding because they can’t get a roof over their heads.

Recovering heroin addict Ben Chapman (33) has been in a tent since he “got kicked out about six weeks ago” from the Framework charity’s Rowan House in Spalding.

Beside him under a makeshift tarpaulin shelter is Latvian national Artur Dismanis (44), who had been living in a bus shelter nearby after he lost his job and then his home.

Spalding residents have complained and said the men should be moved on, but Ben said police visited them on Thursday and claims they were told they could stay put as long as they kept the site tidy.

Ben says he’s tried and failed to get a house and can’t claim DSS because he doesn’t have a permanent address.

“I am just trying to get out,” said Ben. “I have never had a council house. I have tried all the local places. I can’t even get one rented because they don’t accept DSS.”

Ben says he’s had one hot meal a week from the Lighthouse Church and the church also gave him milk and cornflakes.

He says he no longer uses drugs, telling us: “I have been clean for a while now but I was on heroin.”

Artur has lost his home in the past when work dried up and that’s what put him out in the streets this time.

He said: “I didn’t work for about two weeks – just two weeks and you are on the street.”

He’s been camping under the tarpaulin for about two weeks and worries his prospects of finding work are going to be tougher than ever because he’s lost his ID, bank cards and driving licence.

“I don’t know what to do next,” he said.

Artur doesn’t want to return to Latvia because he says there’s nothing there for him, his parents are dead and he lost his family eight years ago after a divorce.

When asked if he would welcome help, Artur said: “I am not a child. I must try to help myself.”

It’s summer now, with warm nights, but how would he feel about camping out through the winter?

Artur said: “I don’t care really because I am from a country where winter is winter.”

A police spokesman told us: “In the majority of circumstances, we do not have the power to ‘move on’ homeless people but in any case such action does not address the root of the problem.

“Our approach is to visit the people concerned, carry out routine checks, and then help them by referring them to the appropriate agency who can offer them ongoing support”.

Framework provides an “accommodation pathway” for more than 150 people in Lincolnshire via its On Track service.

The service, operating in Lincoln, Boston, North Kesteven and South Holland, provides emergency, fully staffed accommodation for people in crisis, and “move on” properties that provide a taste of independence with occasional staff support.

The service will also support people for a limited time after they move into accommodation of their own.

Although it cannot comment on individuals, Framework issued a general comment about its policy.

Operations manager Chris Bugden said: “We are an organisation dedicated to helping homeless and vulnerable people to live independently in the community. Clearly the very last thing we want to do is to ask anybody to leave our accommodation, but there are occasions when we have no alternative but to take this course of action to protect staff and residents.”