Homeless and sleeping in car on the seafront

Phillip Smith

Phillip Smith - Credit: Archant

Living in a car on the seafront, Phillip Smith, 54, is homeless in Sidmouth. He only has the clothes he stands up in.

He’s been sleeping in his car outside the hotels for two and a half months after he was reported to police as a missing person.

“It’s been all right. The car is comfortable enough and it’s warm,” he told the Herald.

“I just go out and walk around. I feel all right when I’m walking into the countryside.”

He claims he has only received one approach by a housing outreach worker but several visits from the police.

On Monday, he returned to find his wheel had been clamped by the DVLA. A sticker in the window said it would be towed away.

“I’m in a bit of a situation. I don’t know what to do about it,” he said.

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He said he came to Devon last August to look after his sick mother, 96, in Ottery, after she suffered one and then a second heart attack.

He then moved in with his estranged wife, near Honiton, although she has now returned to her native Italy.

Phillip said he came to Sidmouth because his daughter was living here. She has now joined her mother in Italy but has started putting a small daily allowance into his bank account.

Occasionally passers-by bring him ‘a sausage roll or a cake’. He said he does not drink, take drugs or have mental health issues.

He said he would have taken up an offer of food or clothes or a place to shower and would like to have a proper place to live, especially in the hot weather.

His wife has a house in Exmouth which is currently unfit to live in after it was vandalised.

“I ate something yesterday; when the money comes through, I’ll get some chips,” he said.

He claimed he had a motorbike accident many years ago that left him in a coma and unable to pursue his love of art.

Cecil Weir, of Julian House, the homelessness services provider for East Devon District Council, said: “We offer as much support as we can and very often go the extra mile with everyone we are dealing with, but if they don’t want that support we can’t dragoon them into doing anything they don’t want to do.”

In January 2015, homeless man Tommy Duffy was discovered dead on the seafront, which led to the setting up of the homelessness charity Gateway.

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