‘Great sadness’ at death of homeless man outside Sidmouth church

A floral tribute placed in the doorway of the Sidmouth Unitarian Church this week where a man believ

A floral tribute placed in the doorway of the Sidmouth Unitarian Church this week where a man believed to be homeless died. Ref shs 6247-46-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

The body of a homeless man was found in the porch of Sidmouth Unitarian Church last Friday morning (November 6) – the second time this year that someone sleeping rough in the town has died.

The 42-year-old has not been formally identified as police are still tracing his next-of-kin.

His family is believed to live outside of the Devon and Cornwall force area.

A member of the public made the discovery at 11.25am. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Volunteers at the church said the man had spent last Wednesday and Thursday night sleeping in the porch.

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His death follows that of Tommy Duffy, another man of no fixed abode, who spent his final hours sleeping rough in a seafront shelter in January.

Tributes were left in the porch of the church this week to remember both people as ‘two gentlemen of the road’.

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A debate is underway about closing off the porch, although this would leave few sheltered spots in the town for anyone in need.

Gateway formed in April - in response to Mr Duffy’s death - to direct homeless people to the existing support on offer in the Sid Valley.

A spokeswoman for the cause said it reacted ‘with great sadness’ to the man’s death last week. She added that the group was ‘devastated’, especially as there is support on offer.

Gateway links people in need to services such as the Sid Valley Food Bank, the Mustard Seed café, churches and housing authorities.

An East Devon District Council spokeswoman said the man was known to the authority but it had not been in contact with him since January, when he declined an offer of emergency accommodation.

He had not been in contact with the food bank since he returned to Sidmouth.

Anyone concerned about the welfare of a homeless person in Sidmouth can call Gateway’s Ann Worthington on 07980 023202 or Lesley Crawford on 07470 004877.

Alternatively, Devon’s Assertive Homeless Outreach Service is available on 0800 151 3441.

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