Ludlow sleep-out to highlight housing threat
People with warm beds at home will be sleeping out on the streets of Ludlow to highlight the threat to a project providing accommodation for young people.
The future of Ludlow Foyer hangs in the balance as there are fears for the future of the housing project due to impending cuts to both Shropshire Council funding and the amount of housing benefit the young people living there will be able to claim.
Now plans to expand the Foyer to include a new 11-flat building next door have also been put on hold due to the uncertainty over the scheme's future beyond 2017.
Members of campaign group Ludlow Campaign for Fairness have now decided to stage a "sleep out" in the town to raise awareness of the plight of the Foyer – and possible government cuts to benefits paid to people living in supported accommodation.
Peter Norman, of the Ludlow Campaign for Fairness, said: "We are focussing on September 1 is that because it has been identified as a day of action by the National Housing Federation. It is in the week that Parliament re-convenes for an autumn session which will see crucial votes on major budget decisions about supported housing."
He said a debate on the matter, that will affect the future of Ludlow Foyer, had been postponed from July.
At the same time Shropshire Council is considering stopping funding to services offered by the Foyer from April 2017.
Mr Norman said campaigners were circulating a petition asking Shropshire Council to keep funding the Foyer during 2017/18 and beyond.
He said it had been the idea of Foyer residents themselves to set up a gazebo in Ludlow's Market Square during the day, before the sleep-out, to get more signatures and talk about the sleep-out.
"If it closes down these lads will be, essentially, evicted," he said.
"The development next door has also been postponed because of doubts about the revenue in the future."
Spencer Andrew, 19, originally from Craven Arms, has been living at Ludlow Foyer since January.
He said: "It's just raising awareness of what it quite a big problem in the UK in general.
"I am worried about the future of the Foyer because it's helped me out so much – before I was sleeping rough, I was all over the place.
"If it closes down there won't be the help for people in Ludlow like me."
Retired vicar Neil Richardson, also with Ludlow Campaign for Fairness, said: "This country doesn't need to do this. I wonder what it will take for Shropshire Council to say enough is enough to central government."
Those taking part in the sleep-out will gather below the Buttercross at the top of Broad Street at 9.30pm.
"Then we will decide where to go depending on the weather and how many people we get," said Mr Norman.
Ludlow Foyer, which is run by Shropshire Housing Group, has also been made Mayor's Charity of the Year by Ludlow Mayor Paul Draper, in recognition of its plight.