HOMELESS AT CHRISTMAS: Council to investigate after Sheffield city centre building exposed as drug den

A drug den used by up to 60 homeless people a day is operating in plain view of the authorities just yards from Sheffield town hall.

Monday, 24th December 2018, 19:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 16:09 pm
The former W H Parkin and Sons building on Rockingham Street in Sheffield city centre.

A campaigner says dozens of vulnerable people come through the door of the former W. H. Parkin and Sons building on Rockingham Street every day, some as young as 18.

He claims the police and council must know the building is used in this way, and are therefore tolerating it, saying it was boarded up as recently as a month ago.

The rooms are used by around 60 people every day.

Sheffield Council today however said they weren't aware how the building was being used and have vowed to investigate .

On Christmas Eve, a tour of the huge former sewing workshop conducted by someone with knowledge of the situation revealed it to be a well established residence for multiple people.

It can be accessed via the building's front door on Rockingham Street, about 100 yards down from Division Street, next door to the large SIP car park.

There are multiple mattresses and other makeshift beds in dozens of rooms - and hundreds of needles scattered over the floors and other surfaces.

Hundreds of needles litter every surface.

The smell of human feces is overpowering and there are dead birds mixed in among the mountains of rubbish which fill every room.

Donations given to rough sleepers by agencies in Sheffield including jeans, sleeping bags and duvets are strewn about the building and its outhouses.

And the building's roof is damaged and open to the elements in multiple places, windows are smashed and there is no running water, heating or electricity.

For some working in the field, the discovery has reignited the debate over whether Sheffield needs a formal night shelter where those who use the building could be better looked after.

One of the upstairs rooms at the former sewing workshop.

However, Sheffield Council and those who work with homeless people in Sheffield insist the current model of directing people towards agencies and then onto help with housing stands the best chance of turning people's lives around.

Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: 'We were not aware of this situation and we're grateful that it has been brought to our attention. We are already investigating it.

'We want to make sure that if anyone is using this building that, first and foremost, they are not in any immediate danger and that their health is not at risk.  

'We will work closely with anyone who has been using this building if they would like our help and assistance.

The conditions are unsanitary and the smell of human feces overpowering.

'We would urge anyone who is concerned about someone who is rough sleeping to call our access team on 0114 2736306, 8.30am-5pm for advice and support or 0800 7311689 if calling on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day or at a weekend. Anyone assessed as being vulnerable and in priority need will be given temporary accommodation.'

The roof has fallen through in number of places.
A dead bird in one of the rooms.