Coffin of rough sleeper killed by hypothermia carried through town
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Health, Local Government
coffin of homeless man
The coffin of a rough sleeper who was killed by hypothermia has been carried through the streets by people local to the town he died in.
Michael Gething passed away on 4 November while sleeping in an alleyway in Totnes.
He was the fourth rough sleeper to die in the town since 2010.
On the night the 42-year-old died, temperatures in the town dropped to -2C. His clothes and sleeping bag were reportedly soaking wet.
South Ham District Council said that it offered Mr Gething accommodation in Dartmouth, 12 miles away.
The council said that there are currently no shelters or hostels in the South Hams, but that supported accommodation places for single homeless people are provided. The council also runs a drop in centre for homeless people in Totnes
Speaking to the BBC, Totnes local Melissa Worsley said people such as Mr Gething "are part of the community and we should look after them.
"If they can't cope with society they still have the right to be looked after."
A spokesman for South Hams District Council said: "We are saddened by the death of Michael Gething and our thoughts are with his family and friends.
"Mr Gething was offered advice, assistance and accommodation by us on several occasions. Unfortunately, accommodation is not always available in Totnes and sometimes it may be offered in nearby towns. A place was offered to Mr Gething in a supported accommodation unit in Dartmouth, known as St Barnabas, but he did not take up the place.
"He was also offered help with getting together a deposit and rent for private accommodation but did not take up this offer.
"In the event of severe weather, we have an emergency protocol in place which seeks to ensure that people living on the streets are offered help and accommodation.
"The council is also committed to the Government’s ‘No Second Night Out’ Policy. This means that when the council is made aware of someone sleeping rough we work with our partners to contact them and help them to explore the options for alternative accommodation and support.
"We estimate there are likely to be approximately seven people sleeping rough in the whole of the South Hams on any one night.
"There are currently 15 households classed as statutorily homeless in the South Hams and they are all currently in temporary accommodation.
"Michael Gething is the only homeless person who we know to have died on the streets in the South Hams this year."
Picture by Jon Kay.