Days after the local council in Bournemouth, Dorset, took a homeless man’s sleeping bag away, he was found dead near a town hall. The 66-year-old man, only known as Kev, was found by his friend under a flyover in a car park. His friend told the media that just days earlier, folks from the Bournemouth Borough Council “removed his sleeping bag and possessions.”
“I put my hand on him to shake him and that’s when I knew something was wrong and my heart sank,” said Kev’s friend. “A couple of weeks ago he said the council took his sleeping bag. They see it as rubbish but they don’t realise these are homeless people; sleeping bags are the stuff that keeps them warm.”
When speaking to the local press, the friends said that Kev never drank, used drugs, or “asked for anything.” Said Kev’s friend: “I commute through Bournemouth every day and he would sit on the wall at the corner of the road. That’s what made me pull over the first time – I stopped to ask him if he was okay and we got talking. I wondered, if I gave him some money, would it go on drugs and alcohol but to be honest he never did any of that, just smoked roll-ups. He never, ever asked for anything from me.”
As Metro reports, this isn’t the first time the Bournemouth Borough Council has come under fire for it’s “unconventional” methods. Previously, the council played bagpipe music to deter people from sleeping near the town’s bus and railway stations.
Said Councillor Robert Lawton, Cabinet Member for Housing:
“We are very saddened to hear of the death of this gentleman. To be clear, we can confirm that the Council did not remove his bedding and belongings and we have been attempting to engage with him for the last 10 years. The St Mungo’s rough sleeper outreach team had been offering support to him on a regular basis.”
“However, for whatever reason, he felt unable to take up any of this support and regretfully turned down ongoing offers of help for his health and accommodation. Various agencies, including health services, the rough sleeper team and social care nonetheless continued to encourage him to access help and worked hard to try and keep him as safe as possible in these very difficult circumstances. Our thoughts are with those affected by this very sad news.”
According to Claire Matthews, the founder of local homeless charity founder Hope for Food, it is not unheard of for the council to take sleeping bags away from the homeless. Their reasoning? To “clean the streets.” Matthews added that Kev visited their soup kitchen about four times a week. Reportedly, he was popular with the volunteers.
Said Matthews: “We give out sleeping bags to homeless people and we’ve been told by some of them the council has removed them to clean up the streets. More needs to be done to help these people.”
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Image Credit: BNPS