Residents’ anger with users of Sunderland homeless centre

Centrepoint hostel, Argyle Street
Centrepoint hostel, Argyle Street
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Users of a centre for homeless people on Wearside are making residents’ lives a misery, it was claimed today.

Neighbours of the Centrepoint building in Argyle Street, near Sunderland city centre, say that youngsters living at the site are intimidating them as well as drinking and urinating in the street on an almost daily basis.

Centrepoint hostel, Argyle Street

Centrepoint hostel, Argyle Street

Police have now issues five Acceptable Behaviour Agreements to residents living at the Centrepoint building and they have been advised that if any individual breaches their agreements, it could lead to further enforcement action being taken by officers.

Dan Appleton, who owns property in Argyle Street, says people living in the area are their wits’ end over the issues.

“It’s a real nightmare,” said Mr Appleton.

“A lot of people are just fed up with the behaviour.

We’re ringing police two and three times a day at the minute because of what is going on.

Dan Appleton

“We’re ringing police two and three times a day at the minute because of what is going on.

“I had a woman living in one of the flats I own but she had to move out because she was too afraid to go out of her front door with groups of them hanging around and drinking.”

Witnesses say that youths have often been seen urinating against the nearby Sunderland Spiritualist Church building.

“We’re trying to do the area up because it used to have a big drug problem,” added Mr Appleton.

“But we’re having to clear cans up and chase away people who are urinating in the street.

“We tried to get in touch with Centrepoint but it’s like talking to a brick walk to be honest.

“It’s got that bad that we’re going to have to start a petition.”

Stephen Hutchinson, of Sunderland Spiritualist Church which is just yards from the Centrepoint building, said: “It’s scaring a lot of the older people around here.

“It’s intimidating for them to see and they’re frightened of their homes or cars being damaged.

“The other week I saw four or five of these youngsters on the ground as if they’d been taking something.

“We ring the police but it seems like no action is being taken to stop it.”

Centrepoint bosses today said they are working with police and anti-social behaviour teams to address the problems.

The organisation supports over 7,800 young people aged between 16 and 25 a year in Sunderland, London and Bradford.

The service offers short-stay hostels to supported flats and foyers with facilities for learning on site.

Martin Gill, Centrepoint’s director of housing and support, said: “Centrepoint take all complaints of anti-social behaviour very seriously and are working with the Anti-Social Behaviour Team to address these concerns.

“Homelessness can be a traumatic and chaotic experience for a young person.

“This hostel is providing an important service at the heart of the community, teaching homeless young people about their responsibilities, the consequences of their actions, and giving them the life skills they need to go on and secure a job and a home.

“We would encourage residents to contact us directly to raise their concerns.

“Since opening this hostel we have worked closely with Centrepoint young people, our neighbours, the police and the anti-social behaviour team to minimise the impact running this vital hostel has on our neighbours.”

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Officers have received a number of calls to this address in recent weeks following concerns about anti-social behaviour.

“Police are aware of the issue and are paying extra attention to the area during their patrols.

“In addition neighbourhood officers have also issued a Dispersal Notice that bans individuals from the area for up to 48-hours.

“If they return they face arrest.

Sunderland Central Neighbourhood Inspector Jamie Southwell said: “We are aware of the concerns of residents in this area and are taking action to deal with it.

“We have spoken to a number of youths about their behaviour and are working with our partners at Centrepoint to deal with this.

“We know that residents are entitled to have live in a peaceful neighbourhood and anti-social behaviour which disrupts the quality of life for the community will not be tolerated.”