A man who died in Westminster tube station on Wednesday was a Portuguese former model who was trying to find work as a waiter, according to a central London homeless charity.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Connection at St Martin’s said the man, who has not yet been named, was one of its clients and had applied for a job as a waiter only last week. Believed to have been in his 40s, he had stayed in the charity’s emergency night shelter “for some time”. The man had “complex circumstances”, the charity said, but had enjoyed singing and regularly attended yoga classes.
The man was found in the underpass of exit three of the station, the Metropolitan police said.
Pam Orchard, chief executive of the Connection, urged the public to remember that those dying on the streets were more than just a statistic. “Everyone who is homeless is someone’s son or brother or dad,” she said. “He had strengths, talents and skills, but he also had problems and things went very wrong for him. The support shown by the wider public for him and his situation has been very moving.”
Westminster sees a very high concentration of the UK’s rough sleepers, said the charity, which supports 4,500 people every year. It warned that there was also a rise in vulnerable people using spice and other drugs “which have a devastating effect on people’s physical and emotional health”.
On Thursday there were several bunches of flowers left at the spot where the body was found. One card accompanying a bunch of flowers had been left at the request of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who had sent a message to be inscribed on his behalf, the Labour party confirmed. The message in the attached card read: “This should never have happened. As a country we must stop walking by. Rest in peace. Jeremy Corbyn.”
Other Labour MPs said the death in the shadow of Westminster had to be a wake-up call.
Rough sleeping in England has increased for seven consecutive years, with official figures showing 4,751 people slept outside overnight in 2017.
The number of children in England stuck in hostels and other temporary accommodation has risen to more than 120,000, according to government figures.
The Connection urged the public to call StreetLink, which coordinates help for homeless people, if they were concerned about a rough sleeper.
It called on the government to invest in specialist clinical treatment services in Westminster to prevent further deaths.