Charity's Ipswich woodland work for cancer victims and the vulnerable is hit by drug-takers and prostitutes
PUBLISHED: 15:55 06 April 2017
Drug-taking and prostitution in a "hidey-hole" adjacent to woodland used by a trust that helps cancer sufferers and vulnerable people are set to saddle the charity with a hefty bill to improve security fencing.
The anti-social behaviour is forcing the highly acclaimed Eden-Rose Coppice Trust to restrict its inspirational use of its leased 3.2-acre Brickmakers’ Wood site in Ipswich, with some children’s activities being cancelled.
Drug-taking paraphernalia, including syringes and needles, is frequently dumped on the trust’s site, causing serious health and safety issues. Fencing along the site’s boundary with Alexandra Park, which has already cost the trust £16,000, has been damaged and will have to be strenthened with costly reinforcement.
Site manager for the trust, Jo Brooks, said: “Drug-taking and prostitution is taking place in a hidden dip along the edge of the park and our wood. It’s a hidden hidey-hole and what goes on there is really unpleasant and intimidating.
“The needles that end up in our wood pose a big health risk and we have to clear them away really carefully - it means we are using only maybe one-fifth of the wood and we cannot let children, especially, see what goes on through the fence - there’s people only partially clothed and a lot of other very unpleasant stuff.”
The trust is restoring the wood as a tranquil urban oasis for nature that benefits cancer patients and people with physical disabilities, mental health problems or learning difficulties. Increased biodiversity is proving to be a key advantage for people’s wellbeing and trust-provided woodland activities offer wide-ranging benefits for site visitors.
Ms Brooks added: “What is going on is a big problem for us and sometimes I ask myself what’s the point of carrying on, but I always snap out of it and all it does is spur me on to make a success of the place.”
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We are aware of issues of drug use, drinking and anti-social behaviourin the Alexandra Park area of Ipswich and are working hard to address these as we understand how this behaviour can blight communities.”
PCSOs carried out daily patrols in the area and work was taking place with Ipswich Borough Council, UCS and St Helen’s Street residents.
“We know there is more we can do and this work will continue for the foreseeable future,” tghe spokesman said. “Anyone who sees criminal activity or anti-social behaviour in the area should call Suffolk Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously to report it.”
Donations to the trust can be made at https://localgiving.org/charity/centreforsupport/