Homeless man sets up camp outside council office

Simon Kelly protesting at Eastbourne council offices
Simon Kelly protesting at Eastbourne council offices

A HOMELESS man who has spent five years sleeping on the beach is camping outside Eastbourne Borough Council’s main offices and says he won’t move until they find him a home.

Simon Kelly has lived in Eastbourne for 30 years, but was left on the streets after falling into financial difficulties back in 2006.

Since then he has moved from pillar to post, finding refuge where he can and, more often than not, spending nights camped under the stars and among the pebbles on Eastbourne seafront.

Three weeks ago he was rushed to hospital suffering from hyperthermia and it was then that he stepped up his efforts to lobby the council for a home.

He said, “You would not treat a dog like this. I just want somewhere to live.”

Mr Kelly, who is nursing a damaged foot and on a cocktail of anti-depressants, anti-fitting medication and high-strength vitamins, is a regular at the Salvation Army and Oasis schemes.

Now though, he just wants a home to call his own.

“This could happen to anyone,” he said. “It is 2011 and you should not have to be living out on the street like this.”

However, a spokesman for the council said the authority had tried to help.

They told the Herald, “Mr Kelly presented himself to the Housing Needs Team recently in response to a conditional offer of temporary accommodation. The offer was based on Mr Kelly undergoing treatment for his alcohol dependency.

“Unfortunately, when Mr Kelly arrived at 1 Grove Road it was immediately apparent that he was heavily intoxicated and he quickly became verbally abusive to members of staff who were trying to help him.

“ While Mr Kelly does not qualify as a priority need for temporary accommodation, the council will continue to liaise with his support worker at the Brighton Housing Trust and do all it can to ensure all housing options that may be available to him in the future are fully explored and supported.”

Mr Kelly – who has been overwhelmed by the support of passers-by and local cafes and takeaways who have offered him free food – refused to accept the explanation.

He defiantly vowed, “I am going to stay here until they find me somewhere.”