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It’s like living in a bedsit – except it is on wheels
TWO landlords are offering an unusual solution to Worcestershire people facing life on the streets.
Gary Smith and Hubert O’Doherty have 27 caravans to offer and are aiming them specifically at helping “vulnerable” people who may feel they have nowhere else to turn. Their site at Shorthill Caravan Park, Hartlebury, has recently been refurbished at a cost of more than £55,000.
“Each caravan is nearly new, they are clean and it is just like living in a bedsit – except it is on wheels,” said Mr Smith. “Rather than people living on the street or ending up sofa-surfing for weeks on end, there is a facility here that they can use.”
Both Mr Smith and Mr O’Doherty are experienced landlords but this sort of enterprise is entirely new to them – and something they believed was sorely lacking.
They have also set up the business to be as user-friendly and welcoming as possible, intending it to be a breath of fresh air for those disheartened at being refused housing purely because they are on benefits.
“We are trying to make it easy for people. Even if you don’t have a deposit or the references you would normally need, you can come to us and we will give you a chance,” said Mr Smith. “We can get the claims set up and offer people somewhere they can start to rebuild their lives.”
As an additional helping hand, the landlords are also preparing to launch a free daily minibus service from the caravan site into Worces-ter and back.
But despite the welcoming approach, the landlords are anything but a soft touch.
“We personally interview everyone and there are strict rules that need to be followed,” said Mr Smith. “We run a tight ship.”
The idea for the site came about through Mr Smith’s own experiences.
“I’ve got a lot of friends who have been homeless and have seen what it is like to have young lads and girls chucked out on to the streets,” he said. If the park at Hartlebury continues to prove a hit, Mr Smith and Mr O’Doherty plan to open others across Worces-tershire.
The most recent statistics, up to the end of June, show 44 people accepted as homeless and in “priority need” in the Wychavon district. With an estimated 49,000 households, this equates to less than 1 in 1,000 people. To get in touch with Shorthill Caravan Park, call 07402 499199.