Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Planters in city doorways ‘to move homeless people on,’ says woman who slept in dustbins before becoming charity owner

A woman who was once homeless as a teenager has criticised new planters in Nottingham which have been installed in spots where rough sleepers often sit.

Wooden planters have been placed in some doorways and shop fronts in the city centre by the organisation It’s in Nottingham.

Two of them have been positioned in two unused doorways at clothing shop Zara, on Pelham Street.

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It’s in Nottingham is a company representing the interests of Nottingham’s city centre businesses.

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It is partially funded by a Business Improvement District (BID) levy – a fee paid by city shops and companies.

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Alex Flint, chief executive of It’s in Nottingham, said the planters “have been installed with the full support of private business owners”.

But Tracy Dickinson, who was homeless for five years from the age of 14, said the idea is “absolutely awful” because some of them block doorways where people often sleep.

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She said she believes they have been installed in a bid to “move homeless people on”.

Ms Dickinson set up ‘Tracy’s Street Kitchen’ in 2016, helping people on the streets with hot meals and clothing.

Ms Dickinson, of Mansfield, is also on the board of trustees at charity Emmanuel House and works at a residential home as a cook.

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She said: “I was homeless from the age of 14 to 19 after being in and out of care.

“Andrew Ellis used to bring me a cup of tea and a sandwich and he took me off the streets.

“We became lifelong friends and in 2016 we saw homelessness was getting worse so we decided to start our own kitchen.

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“These planters are absolutely awful. They’re sending a message to keep homeless people out of Nottingham and move them on.

“These are human beings, they deserve a life. I want some humanity for these people.”

She said she handed out hats, scarves and gloves to the homeless in Nottingham this week and will be giving out hot meals on Christmas Day.

She said: “They’ve seen these planters and they’ve told me they’ve got nowhere else to go.

“For me, it feels like a massive barrier because they need somewhere comfortable to be.

“I’ve spent 1,852 nights on the streets and there’s nowhere safe to sleep. At times I had to sleep in dustbins. It’s very hard to find somewhere that’s comfy to sleep for the night.”

She added that she has seen homelessness increasing in Nottingham over the years.

She said: “There’s less and less support with budget cuts and it’s not going to get any better.”

Alex Flint, CEO, It’s in Nottingham, said: “People visiting Nottingham city centre will have seen our new planters, which have been installed with the full support of private business owners, along Bridlesmith Gate and High Street, just off the Old Market Square. Look out for more in the coming months, and especially during the spring and summer when the planters will be at their finest.

“Contributing to a thriving and inspiring city centre, our Green, Healthy City Strategy aims to provide residents and visitors with green space to rest and socialise and supports our partners’ aims to make Nottingham a carbon-neutral city by 2028.”

Mr Flint added that the firm has also created a ‘modular parklet’ near the train station and a ‘bee-highway’ to support pollinating insects.

•  Framework charity sees 50% increase in Nottingham rough sleepers


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