Homelessness is a global issue that has been around since time immemorial. Whether temporarily down on their luck or permanently out of a job, how they are treated by others can be less than dignified.
It was under the flyover of a car park that the body of a homeless man was found, just days after a friend, Adam, claimed that people from Bournemouth Borough Council took away everything he had.
Adam had found the rough sleeper — known only as 66-year-old Kev — and stated that the council had “removed his sleeping bag and possessions,” just days prior because they saw it as “rubbish.”
“I put my hand on him to shake him and that’s when I knew something was wrong and my heart sank,” said Adam, who has known Kev for nearly 18 months prior to the tragic incident.
“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,” he added. “Sleeping bags are the stuff that keeps them warm.”
The friend added that Kev never drank or took drugs or ‘asked for anything’ from him, though he could have very easily asked for the money to spend on such things. He added that the older man always tried giving him life advice.
Adam and Kev met one day on a commute through Bournemouth — a journey he takes nearly every day where Kev 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,” he said. The friend added that he wondered what Kev might do with the money he was bound to receive.
“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,” the man said. “He never, ever asked for anything from me.”
The man, like so many others, has been left wondering how a council could do such a thing to those that are less fortunate. According to reports, they have a habit of crude acts towards the homeless community.
It previously came under fire during a stint where the council played bagpipe music in order to deter people from sleeping near the town’s bus and railway stations. It also allegedly bought one-way tickets to send rough sleepers out of town.
In a recent statement, however, the council has denied taking Kev’s belongings but added that they had come in contact with him from time to time.
“We are very saddened to hear of the death of this gentleman,” said Councillor Cabinet Member for Housing Robert Lawton. “To be clear, we can confirm that the Council did not remove his bedding and belongings.”
“We have been attempting to engage with him for the last 10 years,” he continued, adding that an outreach team had been offering support for the homeless man on a regular basis. Lawton claims Kev only turned the help down, time and time again.
Yet, Hope for Food charity founder Claire Matthews, 45, suggested a different story after claiming the council removes the sleeping bags her foundation gives out, in an effort to “clean the streets.”
Kev was a regular in her soup kitchen and, according to numerous reports, was popular with the volunteers and everyone around him.
“Kevin was a lovely man,” she said, adding that he “never asked for anything and was always grateful for what he got.”
“More needs to be done to help these people,” she said. And though Kev may be gone, his personality and joyful attitude towards the people he knew will never be forgotten.
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