Citizen calls for urgent action after homeless Jimmy is found dead in his tent

The tragic death of a homeless man in his tent has sparked a citywide call for action - backed by the Citizen.

Wednesday, 2nd November 2016, 2:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:03 pm

Jimmy Owen’s body was discovered by police in his tent (pictured) pitched in an underpass near Station Square.

He is the third homeless person to die in Milton Keynes this year.

His death has now prompted dozens of other members of the city’s homeless community to consider pitching their tents outside the council offices in a mass protest.

A regular outside MK rail station, Jimmy was well known for wandering about the city in his striped pyjama bottoms.

“He was a real character and will be sadly missed by a lot of people.” said a spokesman for the Open Door homeless project.

In his late 30s, Jimmy was a previous council tenant. But due to alcohol problems, he left the property and took to the streets.

He is one of the ‘hidden army’ of at least 100 people who are living rough under canvas in MK.

“Like many people in his situation, Jimmy was struggling to cope with everyday things. These people should not have to live like this. MK needs a specialist hostel where they can live safely while they receive the help they need,” said the Open door spokesman.

Such a facility is called a “wet hostel” and is specifically for homeless people with alcohol, drug or mental health problems.

The Citizen is contacting city officials, including leading councillors, asking why such a hostel cannot be built.

We also plan to instigate a fund to gather donations to pay for a funeral for Jimmy, who would otherwise face a pauper’s burial.

Details of the fund will be updated on this website.

Sam Crooks, who is a local councillor and a fundraiser for Open Door,said:“This is a human being who has died, not a statistic.Homeless people often have a range of health and other problems. The Night Shelter will be opening shortly.We have to make sure it is properly supported with all the specialist services that it needs. Local businesses and the council should help with funding.

The Winter Night Shelter is due to open in the old Buszy building near the rail station on December 1.

It is run by volunteers and local churches and stays open until the middle of March.

One of Jimmy’s homeless friends said: “The night shelter project is good and we’re grateful. But it came too late for Jimmy. It’s cold now and it may still be cold in March. We need an all-year round place for people like us to go.”

He added; “We’re all gutted about Jimmy. But we’re not surprised another homeless person has died. There’s 100 more of us out there - how many more deaths will it take before the authorities listen to us?”

Poignantly, last month Jimmy had attended a memorial concert for his homeless friend Tony Porter, who was found dead on the steps of Christ the Cornerstone Church in February.

The following month another MK homeless man Patrick Allen died.

“Enough is enough,” said one tent dweller. “It’s so obvious we need help. We cannot thank the Citizen enough for listening to us.”