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Coronavirus: Charity's anger after food stall for homeless pulled down by Norwich City Council

The stall used to be near the ice cream stand on Haymarket in Norwich Credit: ITV Anglia

A charity have said they are "disgusted" by the decision to demolish a stall used to serve food to rough sleepers in Norwich.

The shelter on Haymarket was taken down by the City Council overnight on Thursday, 26 March. It was owned by the council, but used most regularly by The Norwich Soup Movement, who served hot meals up to four nights a week.

The decision to demolish the stall was an attempt to follow social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement from Norwich City Council.

A spokesperson said: "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."

Local authorities have been instructed to house all rough sleepers, and the council say they are hoping to "deliver food to people directly".

However, posting on Facebook, the Movement called it an "ill thought out" decision and expressed concerns about whether vulnerable people would still be able to source meals.

The Norwich Soup Movement continued to deliver meals after the shelter was taken down Credit: Norwich Soup Movement

They claimed that on Friday they took the meals they were going to serve from the stall out onto the streets and helped 50 people.

The post said: "I would love nothing more than for everyone to be off the streets right now.

"I would welcome the news that our pals were being appropriately isolated, fed and cared for. I mean, that's the end goal for Norwich Soup Movement.

"But this is a too little too late, ill thought out attempt, to stop evening meals for the city's most vulnerable.

"We [also] have many elderly people that come to eat with us. They have accommodation, but they still rely on us for food.

"The last thing we want is to put anybody in danger. We are adhering to guidelines. We are encouraging people to distance from their friends.

"We are serving at a distance and we have stopped any actions that may lead to bunching or crowding. We are not stupid, and neither are those we care for.

"The lack of respect is staggering, and I'm disgusted by it all."

A petition with over 44,000 signatures had been submitted to Norwich City Council asking the stall not to demolished, but council officials say they are positive about feeding the city's vulnerable.

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

“Working with Pathways [the council's rough sleeper coordination team] and other organisations, we continue to engage with rough sleepers, secure additional units of temporary accommodation and deliver food to people directly.”

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