The independent London newspaper

Homeless man found dead in Chalk Farm doorway

Roundhouse says death is a 'stark reminder to look out for those less fortunate than us'

01 November, 2018 — By Robbie Harb

A sign marking the man’s death near the Roundhouse music venue

FOUR tea-light candles and a small bunch of flowers mark the doorway in Chalk Farm where a homeless man was found dead on Sunday morning.

The death of the man, who has not yet been identified, has led to fresh calls to aid rough sleepers as temperatures fall. Police and paramedics were called to the doorway outside the Roundhouse, in Chalk Farm Road, just before 10.30am.

The man, believed to be around 50, was pronounced dead at the scene. The music venue said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with all of those who knew him and [his death] acts as a stark reminder to look out for those less fortunate than us, particularly as we go into the winter months.”

A sign on the door said: “In remembrance to the homeless gentle soul who passed away at this very spot this morning. The world may have forgotten, but we acknowledge and recognise your existence. Safe passage. Rest in Peace.”

Residents and shop workers were unable to identify the man as the New Journal investigated the circumstances this week. He was described as bald and with a short beard.

Sevket Boyarz, who works at Marathon kebab shop, said: “I offered him food many times and he never wanted anything I tried to give him. It doesn’t look like he drank either – I never saw him with a drink like some of the other [homeless people] in the area.”

Another shop worker in the street said it was hard to identify who had died due to the numbers using doorways for shelter in Camden Town, adding: “I can only say what everyone else has said: It’s very sad. Nobody noticed him. People would pass by him without interacting with him. Who knows how long his body was out there in the cold?”

The average life expectancy of a homeless person in the UK – 43 years of age – is now almost half that of a settled person.

Jon Glackin, who runs Streets Kitchen, a charitable initiative which feeds and clothes homeless people, said he would be raising the increasing number of rough sleepers at the next full council meeting later this month. “Every winter it’s the same tragic story,” he said. “How many more need to die before they take this seriously?”

Councillor Richard Cotton, who highlighted homelessness during his recent year as mayor, said: “This is another shocking example of the crisis we’re facing, not just in Camden but in London as a whole. “Huge cutbacks in benefits across the board led us into this situation. The homeless crisis is simply the sharp end of the biggest housing crisis since World War II. We need a whole package to deal with it – something similar to what the post-war government did.” At Thursday’s housing scrutiny committee meeting,

Labour councillor Leo Cassarani asked how far Camden would investigate compulsory purchase orders to buy long-term empty homes. “We must not forget that a very good way of starting to solve the problem of homelessness is to give people a home. The number of empty homes in the borough is absolutely shameless,” he said.

But Camden housing director Rhys Mackinson said Camden would have to stump up market rate or more, and that “just an average house could cost you £1million plus, so it’s quite a risk taking on that level of commitment.” He warned that the risk of homelessness was increased by a property market that was too expensive for people claiming benefits. Comment, page 18

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