Lismore City Council workers move in to remove tents, rubbish and outdoor tables from the old Soup Kitchen site in South Lismore.
Lismore City Council workers move in to remove tents, rubbish and outdoor tables from the old Soup Kitchen site in South Lismore. Jacklyn Wagner

Tents of homeless flattened

IT WAS the end of an era for the shanty town for homeless at the back of the old Soup Kitchen in Lismore yesterday as the few remaining tents were pulled down.

Former resident Daryl Edwards had lived in the tents for 12 months, and said they weren’t very good to start with.

“There was water dripping on us. Half of us ended up in hospital with pneumonia`,” he said.

“They knocked them down today. I told my people we had to go.”

Lismore City Council community services co-ordinator Annie McWilliam said the old Soup Kitchen and tents were on Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) land.

She said the council ended its lease with the ARTC when the shelter and soup kitchen were moved to the Winsome Hotel, and as part of the agreement had to restore the site to the condition it was in at the start of the lease.

“That meant we couldn’t have any debris or people living here,” Ms McWilliam said.

“There may have been a sentimental attachment for some, and the tents have been part of Lismore’s history in a way.”

Ms McWilliam said the council had given the people living in the tents ‘updates’ on what was happening, including four flyers and laminated signs to ensure they knew the site would be cleared.

“This avoided people having their personal possessions there, and we’re satisfied we’ve given people due notice,” she said.

“We put the signs out and made a conscious decision not to do it before Christmas.”

When the council discussed the issue with people remaining at the site, Ms McWilliam said they found there were very few still living there.

“We’re very mindful of it and it’s a sensitive journey to support the Soup Kitchen and people for a better life.”

Ms McWilliam said the council had worked with organisations, including the Soup Kitchen, Helping Hands and the police, to move the people from the old site to new accommodation.

However, Mr Edwards said the rooms at the new venue were currently full, and some of the people who had lived in the tents were now living ‘under the bridge’.

“I just want a roof over my head and for my people,” he said.



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