East Kilbride homeless unit is ‘a living nightmare’ for localsOctober 24, 2019
People living near a homeless unit in South Lanarkshire say having the centre on their doorstep is “a living nightmare”.
Police have been called out to Lindsay House in East Kilbride almost 700 times in two years.
A man was arrested following a rape at the facility earlier this month.
Locals have blamed “constant” violence and anti-social behaviour on the unit and told the BBC they fear its operators have “lost control”.
Lindsay House is located in The Village in the town, close to many bars, restaurants and bookmakers.
It is used to house people with addictions and mental health needs. It is owned by South Lanarkshire Council and operated by the charity Ypeople.
Freedom of information data showed that officers attended 679 incidents between 2017 and 2019.
Local residents say they have had enough.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, shared her experience.
She said: “It is like a living nightmare. We have been there for years and it has always been a homeless unit. We have had the odd bit of bother but nothing on the scale of what it is now.
“There are constant police there, night and day. All hours of the day there is screaming, shouting, swearing.
“I’ve phoned over to the unit and I’ve been told there is nothing they can do. They don’t have a curfew.”
She also described the impact on her family.
“We don’t sleep much,” she said. “It has affected my husband’s work. He is a lorry driver and nearly fell asleep at the wheel. I am not getting to sleep until five or six in the morning.
“They have completely lost control of the place.”
Charity Ypeople insisted it had a grip on the facility.
Chief executive Joe Connolly said: “In partnership with South Lanarkshire Council and Police Scotland, we have an action plan in place.
“We have increased staffing, reduced for a period the number of people in the service and police have increased patrolling in The Village.
“The quality of what we do is of the highest standard. But we can always improve that.”
He said that Lindsay House was an important part of South Lanarkshire’s provision in terms of homelessness.
Earlier this month, Hamilton Sheriff Court heard how a police officer was scarred for life after being bitten when she attended a disturbance at Lindsay House.
The Freedom of Information data also showed a number of other officers had been attacked during incidents in recent years.
Local resident Iris Reynolds said: “I think it is having a terrible impact on everyone that lives within the vicinity of the facility. You are in two minds whether to go down there at night.
“You can’t go in the car park at the back of Lindsay House because they are all sitting in there taking drugs and drinking.
“I feel sympathy for the people that are homeless and do need help but it’s the others who are selling drugs who are putting these people in jeopardy.
“I don’t think there is enough control over what happens in Lindsay House. I think there is a lack of control and that is why the police have to come so often.”
Local MSP Linda Fabiani has told the BBC that closing the facility would be the wrong approach.
She has set up a forum for local businesses and residents to discuss the anti-social behaviour they fear is linked to the unit.
She said “Lindsay House has been there for decades. I don’t believe shutting it down is an option. We have to look very carefully at some more intensive management because people are perceiving there is an issue there.
“The council has an obligation to deal with homelessness and to deal with people who have particular issues and need a roof over their head.”
She added: “I believe there are issues – that cannot be denied. But I think if everyone gets together, we can get there.
A South Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: “Ypeople are sector leaders when it comes to supporting homeless people who have complex needs transition to independent living and they have worked with us to provide key services in East Kilbride for almost 20 years.
“We have listened to the concerns that have been expressed by some local groups and individuals about the service and we have worked with Ypeople and Police Scotland to respond to these concerns.
“We will continue to listen to the local community as we seek their ongoing support to continue to help vulnerable people in need of this service.”