Home appeal for man who lived in bin

A YOUNG man suffering with mental health problems spent three weeks sleeping rough in a wheelie bin and eating scraps from the rubbish in a Suffolk town.

A YOUNG man suffering with mental health problems spent three weeks sleeping rough in a wheelie bin and eating scraps from the rubbish in a Suffolk town.

But shockingly the centre that found him a place to stay over the Christmas and New Year period has revealed that his desperate plight is not unusual.

The alarm was raised when Peter, not his real name, went into the Ipswich Night Centre on December 23.

There the staff found he had used a wheelie bin for shelter from the cold weather at night for the previous three weeks since he lost his home.

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With only 70p in his pocket and eating scraps of food and leftovers from restaurants dumped in the town's bins, they found Peter, who is aged in his late 20s to early 30s, was mentally exhausted.

Maureen Reynel, who was running the centre that night, said: “This compounded his problems and he was in a sad state.

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“He was sleeping in this bin behind one of the businesses in the town. He explained this to the nurse and because he's got mental health problems it was really horrendous for him.

“He was so incredibly down mentally. He did not want to speak an awful lot and was lethargic. He was shut off from everything and everyone around him and he was frightened.”

But she added: “About a couple of years ago we had a man that slept in a skip in one of the streets. It isn't particularly unusual: if people are freezing cold then they will find somewhere with sides to sleep in.”

The centre swung into action to try to find the man accommodation.

It had put an appeal in the East Anglian Daily Times and on BBC Radio Suffolk before Christmas for pledges to pay for the £34 a night cost of bed places over the festive and New Year period, should homeless people need them.

But, because of Peter's particular problems, the centre could not use the places it had arranged so it had to contact a bed and breakfast establishment it had used previously.

Ever since he has stayed there and Mrs Reynel was liaising with Ipswich Borough Council's housing department yesterday to try to find him some more permanent accommodation.

After spending the day at the council offices, Peter was given emergency accommodation for last night but the process to find him somewhere to stay will have to start again today.

Mrs Reynel, who described Peter as an intelligent man who had previously had a very good job, said: “We have made sure that he's had a daily supply of food. He is getting stronger mentally. Because he's got this illness anyway if he goes back on the street he will just go downhill again.”

She said she would now have to “call in” the pledges the centre had received to pay the bill for the accommodation.

The centre, which has been open for two years, is open three nights a week for two hours acting as a refuge for people who are homeless, do not have a permanent home or have other problems, as well as providing soups, drinks and sandwiches.

It currently rents a building for the service but is working with other agencies and the borough council to see if there is enough need and funding for a permanent centre.

Mrs Reynel said: “We have got this young man like many others who need a roof over their head and Ipswich doesn't have a shelter to offer them. That would be the answer to so many problems.”

Anyone who wants to make a pledge for a bed space should contact Mrs Reynel via the EADT on rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk.

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