UPDATE: Death of homeless Jimmy Owens spurs council into action

Hard-hitting questions from the Citizen have resulted in a pledge from the council that no more homeless people will die on the streets of Milton Keynes.

Wednesday, 2nd November 2016, 5:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm

The promise came when we demanded action after homeless Jimmy Owens was found dead in his tent pitched under a CMK underpass.

The Citizen, together with Open Door, other homeless help groups and the People’s Assembly, believes a solution to the problem would be a specialised ‘wet hostel’ specifically to help people like Jimmy with their alcohol or drug problems.

SEE MORE: Citizen calls for urgent action after homeless Jimmy found dead in his tentWith the grim toll of homeless deaths now reaching three in the past nine months, we asked leading councillors what they planned to do to prevent any more tragedies.

Councillor Nigel Long, who is the leading member for adult social care, came back with a swift response - and a firm promise.

He said: “I am very sad and deeply upset at the death of a vulnerable adult sleeping rough. It is an indictment of our rich society that people end up dying on the street.

“But, we the Council have to take some responsibility here.

“ We need a wet room type of support for people with alcohol related problems. But more importantly we need to help vulnerable people through personal support arrangements that help people back on to their feet to become independent again.

“Milton Keynes Council, as well as delivering on practical measures like the winter night shelter, must also fund a way to engage and support vulnerable people.

“My commitment is to bring housing and care services closer together to reach out and provide better help. We need to fully understand the scale of this problem. We must learn from good practice in other areas.”

Mr Long concluded: “We must never again see another person die in a tent on our streets.”

He said he planned to deliver the first “major changes” within the next 12 weeks.