6:10pm Thursday 14th June 2012
By Emma Dunn
A GROUP of volunteers who have been picking up hundreds of discarded needles from around the town have called for answers after being denied funding from the council.
A team from the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church homeless support group, which normally offers food and help to the homeless, has been collecting used needles since February using only rubber gloves and a needle picker.
The group has criticised the council after it was denied a £1,000 grassroots grant to help pay for equipment and disposal of the needles.
The Very Reverend Monsignor Mark Paris-Haines, who is part of the team, said: “They say in their letter that we are trying to copy agencies they have already got in Swindon but I want to know where these agencies are.
“I have a group of 13 people who are willing to work with the council as volunteers. We just want the supplies to help us do the job.”
David Rogalski, director of 1st Choice Clean-ing, has been aiding the group by discarding the needles on its behalf.
The group has picked needles from the Brunel car park staircase, Harding Street car park, the bike track by the sorting office, Faringdon Park, Fosseway Court and the Railway Village.
Mark said they picked up more than 500 used needles from Faringdon Park. They have been using rubber gloves that were given to them by Wiltshire Police but say they need proper equipment, including armour plated gloves, for safety.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The grassroots grant application from the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church homeless support group was not successful because the council already supplies a service for picking up discarded needles. The application also did not have the necessary support from local councillors.
“We have since offered to work with the homeless support group to help them resubmit a new grant application as we want to help them in their work with the homeless.”
Anyone who finds needles is urged to call council contractor Swindon Commercial Services Ltd on 01793 445501.
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