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Thread: Community meeting about van folk

  1. #1
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    Community meeting about van folk

    A church local to me is holding a community meeting about 'Why does there seem to be so many people living in vehicles around here, and what do we think about it?' this evening.

    The story I hear is that the warden of the church (who I know through home ed scene, and I think is sympathetic to vanners) has picked up some rumblings among the flock there and has arranged a proper heads up talk about it. I think mostly prompted by quite a big park up, mostly 7.5 tonners in crusty/festy/techno style that have been settled down a dead end by there since last summer. I've not been down there overnight but to be honest it's nice, they're settled with plants etc. out, sometimes folk sat in camping chairs having their tea on the step and all that. What used to be there was a dodgy dead end full of discarded johnnies and flytipped fridges. There are also a couple of caravans right by the church (wonder if they've been using water and facilities on charity there?) that are not quite so healthy, and probably wind up squares more.

    Anyway I'm going to try to get there, not sure in what capacity. Take the temperature of the locals, maybe speak up or work to defuse tensions. Part of the reason there's people parked round here is that it seems mostly fine by the house people, be a shame if that turns.
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  2. #2
    Turning On naturalspirit's Avatar
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    Would be interesting to know what goes on.
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    Walking back to happiness ma bungo's Avatar
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    I wonder if the van folk know about the meeting ? Maybe some might want to go and represent themselves . Cannot help thinking the meeting will end up a how can we get rid of them ,rather than how can we help them kind of thing. Lets just hope they do not go down the kangeroo court/vigilantee road
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    Words been round at least among some of the wheeled peeps, one of which is a regular at the church. I think he's been trying to recruit 'respectable specimens' to come represent.

    I'm thinking that setting out a really strong "How can we best welcome these people into our community?" position early may help frame the whole range of debate and prevent it being an unbalanced discussion. From that perspective it maybe doesn't matter if none of the big park up crew come - there's evidence that the current situation marginalises rather than includes.
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  5. #5
    just me Colin M's Avatar
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    A very trickey situation, I hope that this goes well.
    Smile - It'll make them nervous.
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  6. #6
    Heavenly Creature
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    I think a lot of us on here will be interested in how the meeting goes
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    Heavenly Creature dieseldog's Avatar
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    As above, watching this with interest; please keep us all posted. Toby n Suzy Trux.

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    Heavenly Creature
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    What part of the world is this in?

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    Real Christians would be working out how to get the van dwellers into church. The fact that they are of no fixed abode is irrelevant. After all Jesus was the ultimate nomad of no fixed abode.

  10. #10
    Heavenly Creature cricket's Avatar
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    That was 2000 years ago,there were fewer bylaws then and more travellers ,he never towed a big techno van about either to park up near Herods gaff.
    Quote Originally Posted by 100Waves View Post
    Real Christians would be working out how to get the van dwellers into church. The fact that they are of no fixed abode is irrelevant. After all Jesus was the ultimate nomad of no fixed abode.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by cricket View Post
    That was 2000 years ago,there were fewer bylaws then and more travellers ,he never towed a big techno van about either to park up near Herods gaff.
    He actually travelled around quite a bit by boat. This was because he had thousands following him and couldn't get around freely on foot.

  12. #12
    Heavenly Creature dieseldog's Avatar
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    I believe it's in Brizzle, VW. Toby.

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    Heavenly Creature
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    Thanks DD! Not exactly near enough for me to pop in.

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    Green around the gills ThreeMoons's Avatar
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    I'm looking forward to an update on this meeting. I'm really hoping it's going to go well and not end up as a NIMBY club.
    Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up on your dreams and ideals, wrinkles the soul.
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    Heavenly Creature cricket's Avatar
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    I geuss no hassel by boat, nor mooring fees then.
    Quote Originally Posted by 100Waves View Post
    He actually travelled around quite a bit by boat. This was because he had thousands following him and couldn't get around freely on foot.

  16. #16
    Heavenly Creature cricket's Avatar
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    okay who is near to Bristol? to pop in and see?

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    Well I feel that was a positive thing. Wrote some thoughts last night so it wasn't just a blur today.

    The warden who had organised opened with a clear agenda to defuse things and clear up prejudice against van living. And yes it was mostly about the visible park-up round the way. Most of that lot turned up, and few of the locals who are dotted about, fairly even representation from that 'side', I guess none of the real scruffbags or people who are sharing the tatty caravans here and there to avoid having to use the nightshelter.
    There was quite frank and intelligible talk from van folk about why they live how they do, the issues faced doing so, why where they are is a good option for them. There was some of the inevitable "Where do you wash? Do you have toilets?" type questions but the mysteries of the nomads were made mundane, and past that we got to some of the practical things that can be done to make building-livers less annoyed.

    Van crew took on board: chimney smoke winds people up about their washing; stepping up and the curb is a trigger and please fold your wingmirror in on the pavement side; filling the little public bin there is not a good idea.

    Residents took on board: they are not a They (more on this); it is legal and they are doing it legally (from the local councillor); most have low impact on the area resource-wise; some would prefer establishing an off-road site but have been frustrated in attempts to do this; some see this as a chosen way of life, some feel it's their only option.

    We heard from people who have lived in the area (house and truck) for their whole lives, newcomers, people passing through. Had tea and cake. I had an opportunity to give insight into why homelessness services do not have The Answer for most of the people living in the streets round here, and met some local vanners. A surprising number of us have jobs as part of local public services one way or another.

    Some choice moments:

    Elderly gentleman addressing the fiercest NIMBY in the room - "Could you use 'you' instead of 'they'? You are talking about people who are in this room"

    In response to one of the park-up folk saying 'come and talk to us, we're friendly, we like it here because people are friendly' - "You fixed my grandson's bike on his way to school." , "You lent me a ladder that time"


    There were a couple who weren't won over, they want their view back like the good old days, but I think they have a distorted memory of what that dead end was like before the trucks - discarded durex from the sex workers round the corner, smashed glass, flytipped white goods...
    Others there pointed this out to them but they were having none of it. On the other hand they had to meet some humans and be humanlike to them, and also heard that there's not a council/police response that they can bring swooping down on the horde of truck lowlives.

  18. #18
    Walking back to happiness ma bungo's Avatar
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    Sounds like it went fairly well then Alf , thanks for your report . I think a lot of people prejudice is based on hearsay from the likes of the Daily Mail and how only bad stuff ever makes it on the news , if the housers on the whole learnt some thing positive and were educated this is very good for the vanners cause , and hopefully the word will be spread that different people are still human despite rumours they are not .There are always bad apples , but in my experience far more of them live in houses than on the road . On the road you are in to much of a spot light to get away with been rotten for long !

  19. #19
    That is the thing Ma, bricks and mortar dwellers can easily hide messiness behind a shed, can hide being a scruffy person behind closed doors, can hide being a lowlife behind the respectable facade of being a council tax paying home owner.

    Vehicle dwellers cannot, we are on display the whole time and critiqued harshly for things that are not always our fault. If there is rubbish in a bricks and mortar street it is seen as the councils fault for not cleaning up properly, yet all that litter came from the people who live in those houses, litter outside a vehicle dwellers home is seen as a sign of how aweful we are even though the odds are it was there before we parked up ( I know most of us clean up before and after a parkup for this reason)

    Also it is so important people not be afraid of us, I will share a coffee and biscuit with anyone who comes a knocking, if you want a hand I will try and help. But it is shockingly rare how rarely anyone asks or drops by for a chat. Usually they turn up with some gripe and plenty of attitude.

    Anyway, thanks for the report, Alf, it seems to have gone well.

  20. #20
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    Yes I think so, my optimistic mind says that those points that you made came across and broke down some barriers.

  21. #21
    Shed Junkie alices wonderland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 100Waves View Post
    Real Christians would be working out how to get the van dwellers into church. The fact that they are of no fixed abode is irrelevant. After all Jesus was the ultimate nomad of no fixed abode.
    My mates dad was a regular piss head (like most hard grafting labourers back in the 1970's)

    One very early morning or very late at night (depending how you look at it. Jonny was on his long walk home pissed from the pub in Town. Several miles from home he was pulled up by the Police because he was riding on the back of a donkey that he had liberated from a field he passed. The coppers knew him well from the drunken fights. On stopping Him the copper said "where you off to Jonny"? Pissed as a newt He replied "fkin Jerusalem"

    Ive got a good-lord feeling that this meeting with the Church and more so the Church Community, could be a good thing. Not too dissimilar to Alice's Restaurant! only more like New Age traveller meets new age Bible Sat Nav.

    I hope the meeting goes well for all concerned, fingers crossed.

    We have always said if we want to get approval for the old fashioned road crew convoy, just stick a huge Cross infront of the first vehicle. The Police would keep the road ahead clear for the Convoy to pass through, rather than escorting the convoy out.
    even a gypsy caravan is too much settling down.
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  22. #22
    Heavenly Creature
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    Well that went better than expected. That's a weird one about the mirrors over the pavement. Are there houses at the end of the road?
    Part of me can't help thinking that 'the system' wants everybody in bricks so they know where you are, and they can be controlled.

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    No, but it's a through route for pedestrians, mostly dog walkers and people to-and-fro the primary school (side entrance, most use the other side but it's a big school).
    Obstructing the pavement is a tangible nuisance that people can put their finger on (or point a finger at) and an easy win to sort. I would just use the road to walk in there but not everyone can get up and down the curb etc. and bicycles (including me!) do come down the hill quite fast as they can get through the bollards at the bottom.

  24. #24
    Heavenly Creature dieseldog's Avatar
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    Good points there from all of you, and well done Alf! I have often wondered how an unmarked vehicle with smoke belching out of the chimney can be called stealthy..... The thought of nearby houses having to close windows and move washing absolutely makes me cringe. A successful bridge building exercise on a local level, though I tend to agree with VW on the larger picture. Let's no forget though, Brizzle is one of the more accepting areas for alternative folk like us. Keep up the good work Alf! Keep on truckin with Toby n Suzy Trux.

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