A 66-year-old rough sleeper has been found dead beneath a flyover, just days after the local authority allegedly “removed his sleeping bag and possessions”, it has been reported.
The rough sleeper, known locally as ‘Kev’, was being supported by a local homeless charity, as well as a number of other services, and was a regular face at the charity’s soup kitchen and liked by many of the volunteers.
The Daily Mirror reports that his body was discovered under a flyover in a car park in Bournemouth, just yards from the council’s offices. He had reportedly complained to a friend that the Tory-run council binned his sleeping bag and only possessions.
Bournemouth Council has previously faced strong criticism for playing bagpipe music to deter homeless people from sleeping rough in parts on the Town centre.
His unnamed friend has reportedly known ‘Kev’ for around 18 months and said his “heart sank” when he found his friend’s frozen body.
“I put my hand on him to shake him and that’s when I knew something was wrong and my heart sank”, he said.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
Claire Matthews, from the local homeless charity ‘Hope For Food’, said: “Kevin was a lovely man, he came to the soup kitchen four days a week, never asked for anything and was always grateful for what he got.
“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.”
Councillor Robert Lawton said he was “saddened” to learn about Kev’s death, but claimed “the council did not remove his bedding and belongings and we have been attempting to engage with him for the last 10 years”.
Mr Lawton added: “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.”
A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “At 8.31am on Monday Dorset Police were called by the ambulance service to reports of a sudden death after the body of a man was located in Braidley Road car park in Bournemouth.
“It is not believed there are any suspicious circumstances and the coroner has been informed.”
Bournemouth Council has since directed Welfare Weekly to a statement published on its website, where Councillor Robert Lawton states: “To be clear, I confirm that the Council did not remove Mr Filsell’s bedding and belongings, contrary to what has been suggested in the press.
“I can confirm that Mr Filsell was found with his bedding. I further confirm that our services have been attempting to engage with him for approximately 10 years.”
“The St Mungo’s rough sleeper team had been offering support to him on a regular basis. However, for whatever reason, he felt unable to take up this support and regretfully turned down ongoing offers of help around his health and accommodation.
“Various agencies, including health services, the rough sleeper team and social care services 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.”
Disclaimer: Featured image is NOT a photo of the gentleman referred to in this article.