It might not be everyone’s idea of a ‘des res’, but a homeless Spalding man says he has mixed emotions about leaving his home under the stars for seven months to move into a flat.
Today marks a new start for the man, who has allowed us to call him Graham, after camping at the back of the former Welland Hospital site on Roman Bank since June.
The Free Press revealed Spalding’s “hidden underbelly” in a special report on Operation Trivium, in which our reporter visited the site with police officers
Over the weekend, the fact it was still occupied sparked a social media frenzy – with residents asking what was being done about it.
But Insp Jim Tyner broke the good news by commenting: “Homelessness isn’t a crime.
“This is one person whose welfare we check on regularly, along with homeless charities.
“He has now turned his life around and has new accommodation.”
In spite of having to cope with some bitterly cold weather in recent weeks, when Graham leaves the tent behind today to move into his new home in Holbeach, he says part of him will be sorry to go.
He told the Free Press when we visited the site yesterday: “I’ve been comfortable here. I’ve insulated the tent and sometimes it’s been too warm.
“My mum has been giving me grief about living outside and I’ve a few aches and pains, but mostly I’ve been happy here. It has been an experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.”
Former market trader Graham said he became homeless when his business folded and his marriage ended.
He said: “It just happened. When I came here I wasn’t alone, but one guy was deported and others have moved on.
“It’s a nice spot – someone lent me a trimmer last year so I could cut the grass. I like to keep the area tidy.
“What really annoys me is seeing empty cans left all over the place when there is a bin just 20 feet away.
“People have been very good here, though – especially some of the police officers.
“I’ve been able to go to my mum’s to wash – and once a week went to the Agape Care foodbank cafe for a hot meal and because it’s warm there.
“You get to know who you can talk to when you are out – it’s been a real eye-opener.”
Graham’s family is helping him with furniture for the move. He said: “Holbeach is such a clean little town – that is something I will enjoy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start up my business again.”
A spokesperson for SHDC said: “We have been aware of this situation and our officers will always look to secure accommodation for a homeless person if he or she is from the local area.
“If not, we will liaise with the relevant authority to ensure he is properly dealt with.”
Yesterday, Insp Tyner said: “People who are homeless are more likely to be victims than offenders.
“We work with other agencies and homeless charities and carry out regular patrols in areas where there are rough sleepers”.
If you need help or know of anyone sleeping rough locally, call Framework’s Street Outreach Team on 0800 066 5365 for free, confidential advice.