Angels rally to keep homeless man alive on Christmas Day

Ashfield community angels came to the aid of a homeless man found sleeping rough on Christmas Day and are still battling to get him help.

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017, 1:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 4:00 am
Local residents looking after a homeless man who is living in a garden in Sutton. Pictured with Terence Thompson are Coun Jason Zadrozny, Naomi Carlisle, Kyle Evans and Sarah Madigan

Residents on Sutton's Leamington estate have been praised for coming together to help the mentally-ill man as he was found braving the cold weather in the open.

Mum-of-three Sarah Madigan, 40, found the man, called Terence Thompson, on land behind Twitchell View after a community appeal to trace a missing person.

She said: “I got a call on Christmas Day and I went down. We’ve been calling paramedics to come and see him, we called council wardens, charities, but no-one has been able to put him up.

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“It’s Christmas and there really was no room at the inn for him.”

Sarah and a few neighbours have been taking food to Terence, and checking up on him throughout the week. And after calls for the council to intervene on the December 27, when temperatures dropped to around -4 degrees, he is still sleeping in a soaking tent.

Sarah added: “We’ve taken him bacon sandwiches, soup, cups of coffee and the Leamington Cob Shop has been donating food each day.

“He used to have a tent but it was trashed by some yobs and he was laid out on the ground, no shoes and no socks. So we managed to get him a new tent and some camping equipment, and someone has even offered him their garden.

“Leamington has a bad name but the community has come together and it’s nice to see people coming up to offer help.”

Ashfield District Council has been criticised over its lack of action after councilor Jason Zadrozny called to ask wardens to arrange a mental health assessment and to take Terence to a hostel.

Councillor Zadrozny said: "This man has been out there a while and has clearly got significant mental health problems. It’s been like walking through treacle with the council - Community wardens were asked to stay with him until a medical assessment could take place and if he wasn’t taken to hospital to take him to the shelter themselves. Instead they just told him he had an hour to move on.

"He has technically made himself homeless because he had a flat which he abused and they evicted him, but it's because they’ve misunderstood his mental issues that he's been left in the position and now he's living in a tent and has serious health problems.

"It’s also causing upset among Leamington residents. There’s been lots of anti-social behaviour around his tent, bullying him and ripping his tent up. Many residents wanted to see him moved on. And he should have been so that residents were happy, but not just moved on - helped and supported back into housing."

Coun Zadrozny says he was, himself homeless for a few months when he was a teenager, eventually being placed in a council hostel.

He added: "I'm am a real example of how people can turn their life around if they get the support they need.

It’s heartbreaking and I feel I’ve let him down because I physically couldn’t get the council to do anything about it. It is certain that if it wasn't for the good will of local residents he would have frozen or staved to death by now. I am seeing the CEO of ADC again today and demanding action. If need be I will be driving him to meet Terry and certainly explain to me why they have broken their promises about getting him into a hostel or work with partners to get him medical and mental health support."