Have a look at the Facebook page, ‘Ash Street Wildlife’.
This posts pictures of people who use the Hope Centre, and other people we don’t know, standing, talking and, yes, drinking in Ash Street Northampton, adjacent to our buildings. The people who post these pictures then put comments against the pictures, suggesting some of the people are selling or using drugs, or are paedophiles and so on. Their friends then also go and copy the poses of homeless people and have these filmed and posted. Others then comment again and make derogatory references.
This is abuse, pure and simple: its cruel and heartless; it labels people with complex problems, and excludes them from mainstream life even more, reducing their confidence. One of our clients protested to us that one shows her dad, who is struggling with alcoholism. If he sees it, he will drink more, and possibly lose his job.
Who could possibly do this? Who could view this and like it, or comment on how brilliant it is? At least 185 people say they do. Do they have no compassion nor care?
We have written to those who host the page and asked them to remove the posts; they ignore us and put up images about their right to ‘free speech’. Facebook and the Police do nothing. The only way these people will do something is by being exposed and shown how wrong and harmful what they are doing is.
We ask you, as our supporters and friends, to share with us your revulsion at this page and the behaviour of these people. Our clients suffer enough without being publicly shown and laughed at for what they do, affected as they are by poverty, homelessness, addiction and mental health. Is that OK to laugh at?
If you share our views, go on the page and complain, or write to Facebook, or whoever else you feel could do something about it. We won’t rest to protect our service users from people who want to hurt them. They hurt themselves enough already: and there is too much hurt, and hate in the world without this.