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Market stalls which helped feed vulnerable will not be returned after outbreak

PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 08 April 2020

Rough sleepers being served soup in the Haymarket. Inset, the stall after being taken away. Picture: Denise Bradley/Dale Reed

Rough sleepers being served soup in the Haymarket. Inset, the stall after being taken away. Picture: Denise Bradley/Dale Reed

Denise Bradley/Dale Reed

Two market stalls that were used to feed some of Norwich’s most vulnerable people will not be returned after the coronavirus, City Hall has confirmed.

The former Haymarket stalls stored on the former Mile Cross Depot. Picture: Dale ReedThe former Haymarket stalls stored on the former Mile Cross Depot. Picture: Dale Reed

The stalls on the Haymarket, which have for years provided a base for a number of organisations providing meals for rough sleepers and other vulnerable people, were removed at the end of March.

Norwich City Council said it was part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak, as a measure to discourage large gatherings in the area amid social distancing measures.

It has now confirmed that it has no plans to return the stalls once these measures have been relaxed.

The stalls were taken away by a council contractor on Friday, March 27 and were temporarily placed at the vacant Mile Cross Depot - but have since been disposed of.

The homeless get soup and sandwiches from the Salvation Army at the charity stall at Hay Hill, Norwich.; Photo: Denise Bradley; Copy: Rebecca Gough; For: EN; ©Archant Photographic 2009; 01603 772434The homeless get soup and sandwiches from the Salvation Army at the charity stall at Hay Hill, Norwich.; Photo: Denise Bradley; Copy: Rebecca Gough; For: EN; ©Archant Photographic 2009; 01603 772434

A council spokesman said: “We are not planning to bring our stalls to the Haymarket. The expert medical guidance on social distancing issued to manage the coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the importance of best practice around food provision for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“This is about making sure that we get food to people safely, rather than bring people to food, and we are working positively with a number of groups involved in providing food in this way.

“Working with Pathways and other organisations, we continue to engage with rough sleepers, secure additional units of temporary accommodation and deliver food to people directly.”

The decision will come as a disappointment to the community groups that used the stalls, including the Salvation Army, the People’s Picnic and the Norwich Soup Movement.

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Nicola Darkins, who heads up the Salvation Army’s homelessness services in Norwich, said: “Instead of providing food from the Haymarket as we would do under normal circumstances, we have been making sandwiches and distributing them from Pottergate for people to take away during the day.

”We have put measures in place to keep Pottergate ARC open in response to the government’s public health advice, such as limiting the numbers of people inside the centre, temperature checks and using hand gel.”

People’s Picnic and Norwich Soup Movement have been approached for comment.


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