Homeless man’s death outside parliament moves Britain
The death of a homeless Portuguese man outside the British parliament this week has prompted calls to tackle the problem and unleashed outpourings of grief, including from Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
The 35-year-old man, who has not been named, was found dead Wednesday in an underground passage from Westminster station that leads to the Houses of Parliament building — a spot that is passed by hundreds of politicians every day.
Police have said the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.
The Connection at St Martin’s, a homeless charity in central London, said the man was a “client” who had often stayed in its emergency night centre.
The charity said he had formerly worked as a model and had applied for a waitering job last week.
He “enjoyed singing and regularly attended yoga classes”, charity chief executive Pam Orchard said.
“He had strengths, talents and skills but he also had problems and things went very wrong for him,” Orchard said, adding: “The support shown by the wider public for him and his situation has been very moving.”
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, left a bouquet of flowers where the man was found and a note reading: “This should never have happened. As a country, we must stop walking by”.
Portugal’s president, who regularly speaks out against homelessness, expressed his condolences on Friday saying he regretted the death of the man “in inhuman circumstances”, the presidency said in a statement.
He also expressed his “solidarity with people who live in precarious conditions, without a home, and asks that everyone make an effort to include them in society,” the statement said.
During a cold snap in Lisbon last month, Rebelo de Sousa personally visited homeless people to urge them to spend the night in a shelter.
The latest government figures show there were 4,751 people sleeping rough in England in autumn 2017 — a 15 percent increase from the same period in 2016 and a 169 percent increase since 2010 when the figures started being recorded.