Homeless living in fear of attackers

The Bridge Project give assitance to the homeless at the Salvation Army in Blackpool.
The Bridge Project give assitance to the homeless at the Salvation Army in Blackpool.
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Vulnerable homeless men and women are living in fear of being attacked – often by groups of young teenagers who are looking for “a bit of fun” – while they sleep.

Beatings can happen in the resort weekly, according to staff at The Bridge Project at the Salvation Army.

Fiona Okbi, project manager, said: “We have some of them getting beaten up – their faces are black and blue.

“Teenagers are battering the homeless. There are groups of youths aged 15, 16 or 17 who go out looking for them on a Friday or Saturday nights.

“They find it sport to look for the homeless and give them a good kicking. It’s normally late evening, it could be happening weekly.”

John Keegans, 52, spent a couple of days in hospital after he was beaten up.

He said: “I got kicked by two adults behind the Metropole. I came into the Salvation Army and they took me to hospital.

“I’ve been beaten up many times.”

Many people will be sleeping rough or in hostels in Blackpool this Christmas

Despite being pregnant, Nicky Williams, 26, is still living on the streets – even though she has been kicked while begging in the town centre.

She ran away from a care home in Birmingham aged just 14 and has been in Blackpool for six years.

She said: “I’ve been attacked while I’ve been begging. You get drunken groups of lads on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night who come past you and kick you.

“I worry about the beatings, sleeping on concrete floors and losing my baby.”

John Colquitt, 59, who has been homeless for four years, said: “Kids who are 15 or 16-years-old go around in groups. They don’t like people sleeping in doorways so they retaliate.

“They empty your pockets and beat you. It happens to me every now and again.

“A friend of mine died after being beaten up while he was in a doorway. It’s awful.”

Most homeless people say they do not want to report crimes against them to the police.

Blackpool Police today said they would encourage any victim of crime to contact them.

A police spokesman said: “Often homeless people lead vagrant lifestyles are reluctant to come forward but violence should not be tolerated in any circumstances I would reassure them they will be taken seriously and any crime will be thoroughly investigated.”