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Open up vacant Southend Town Centre shops for the homeless overnight during the winter

This petition had 34,046 supporters

With Winter getting underway, it is simply heartbreaking to walk around Southend Town Centre at night and get a true idea of the town's homelessness problem.

Let's be perfectly honest with ourselves for one moment - this is 2017, and this is a disgrace.

The purpose of this petition isn't to lay the blame at the door of any one particular organisation - we are simply acknowledging that something needs to be done about this NOW.

We are also acknowledging that there is a potential solution that is staring everyone in the face.

Sleeping rough is risky enough at any time of the year, but over the Winter there is the added danger of succumbing to the effects of the freezing cold.

Our idea may not be a popular one in everyone's eyes, but it is definitely worth considering.

Southend High Street and the surrounding areas have a handful of vacant retail units, and we don't want to name them all here, but the idea isn't as crazy as it sounds.

There is a shopping centre in Stratford (the older one) that takes in rough sleepers at night, and as far as we can tell there is little or no inconvenience to existing business owners or shoppers who arrive the next day. If this can be done in a functioning retail unit, why can't it be done in a vacant one?

Southend has a number of amazing organisations that are dedicated to helping the homeless, and therefore there could well be enough people to volunteer for these 'pop-up homeless shelters.'

We're not saying that it would be an easy task in terms of health and safety or legal considerations - we're just saying that the idea needs to be considered.

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