Angels rally to keep homeless man alive on Christmas Day

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
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

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.

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.

“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.

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"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."

Ashfield District Council said: "Council officers have cleared up the initial campsite and are currently working to encourage the individual to return to his rented property. We are grateful to residents who are supporting the Council in this matter.”

"Mr Thompson is rough sleeping by choice as he already has a room in a property that he can return to should he be willing to.

"Given that Mr Thompson refused to return to his home and given concerns about the weather and his health Council officers have visited Mr Thompson numerous times to offer him support including hostel accommodation and travel to that accommodation, which Mr Thompson has refused on each occasion. Mr Thompson has access to a support worker via Opportunity Nottingham and the Council is encouraging him to work with the support worker to find the appropriate help.

"Councillor Zadrozny has been updated by both the Chief Executive and the Assistant Chief Executive about Council action and that Mr Thompson has refused to access the help available to him. The Council response has been professionally handled and appropriate advice and support provided to Mr Thompson throughout the holiday period."