74-year-old man left to sleep on Wellingborough streets

Richard Jackson has not been given emergency shelter by Wellingborough Council despite being 74 years old.
Richard Jackson has not been given emergency shelter by Wellingborough Council despite being 74 years old.

A 74-year-old man with chronic health conditions is facing another night on the streets of Wellingborough.

Richard Jackson tried to take his own life on Monday after spending the past few months living between hostels and the town’s roving night shelter.

Richard Jackson slept outside the Swansgate shopping centre last night and was attacked by a fellow rough sleeper/

Richard Jackson slept outside the Swansgate shopping centre last night and was attacked by a fellow rough sleeper/

Last night he slept outside the Swansgate Centre in Market Street, Wellingborough, and was attacked by another rough sleeper.

During nights on the streets this winter he says he has been robbed, urinated on, spat on and threatened with a nine-inch knife.

The formner factory worker has a number of health conditions including angina, chronic pulmonary disease and problems with his eyesight.

Speaking outside the Nationwide building society during the wet weather this afternoon Richard, who was born in Wellingborough and lived there all his life, said: “They don’t want to know. I have had the promise of a flat but they have changed their mind before.

“I was scared at first sleeping on the streets but you get used to it. I took some pills on Monday night when I was staying at a hotel as I thought I just can’t take this any more.”

The pensioner, who receives £150 a week pension, lost his rented flat in November after being evicted by his landlord.

He was put in overnight accommodation by the council when it enacted its emergency shelter provision during the recent cold snap. But when it ended on Tuesday (February 5) he had to pay for two nights of hotel accommodation himself and has now ran out of money.

The authority was the last of all councils in the north of the county to introduce its cold weather measures and will bring it in after three nights of freezing temperatures are forecast.

This week Richard has been helped by a local estate agent to find a rental accommodation and Wellingborough Council has said it will fund his deposit and first month’s rent but as yet a permanent move-in date has not been agreed. He plans to spend tonight in a homeless shelter but will have a 30-minute walk to get there.

Wendy Steele, who is a volunteer with the Wellingborough Homeless Forum, said he is disgusted at Richard’s treatment.

She said: “You would have thought that the council would put him in accommodation until a permanent place was sorted.

“I am worried that he is going to die on the streets. This is not a place for a man of his age with health problems.”

Wellingborough Council does not provide a permanent shelter for the town’s rough sleepers.

A roving night shelter which operates five nights a week is run by volunteers, as is the Daylight Centre, which is open four mornings a week. For the rest of the time rough sleepers do not have somewhere warm and dry to stay.

A spokesman for the council said: “The council is committed to providing support for anyone who is facing homelessness or is without somewhere to sleep. Our housing options team are working with this resident to provide ongoing advice and assistance. If anyone would like anymore information about housing assistance, please contact the housing options team on: 01933 229777 (option 3).”