Homeless Man Explained by Park Rangers
Acton Park Sleeper is well-known park occupant
The photographs taken on Tuesday afternoon have provoked kind, thoughtful responses from posters on the ActonW3.com Forum. People have made offers of duvets, food, information and help. Now, it is becoming clear that the Park Ranger team have been aware of the occupant of the blue sleeping bag for some time.
Pat Robinson, one of the team, has been told me today about the man, whom he has spoken to several times. He said: "We have known about this man for a few years. We put him in touch with the Ealing CAT (Contact and Assessment Team). The man has a problem and we think it would be best if he is left alone by members of the public who may be tempted to try and help him. He used to have a flat, but seems to prefer living on the street. He doesn't want food or shelter"
Pat told me that on his way to work on his bicycle he has noticed the same man in Holborn, Notting Hill Gate and other locations. "It seems he would rather be on his own. He does get around quite a bit."
The Ranger team have asked him whether he needs food and have made sure that he is ok. They have often asked if he wants to be put in touch with the CAT team. They are concerned about him, not because he causes problems in the park, but because he is vulnerable to assault.
I am trying to contact the CAT team to see whether they can add anything to this information as Pat thinks they may have had contact with the man recently.
Pat said the blue sleeping bag occupant is not the first man he has come across who rejects offers of help and prefers to sleep out: "When I first started working in Acton in 1998, there was a man who slept on the railway embankment. This man also had problems. He slept there for at least six years and we regularly put him in touch with Emmaus House to make sure he was fed. He is gone now - I have no idea what happened to him."
This goes a long way to explain the reasons this man is sleeping out. It is also very reassuring to know that there are offers of help coming from all directions, but it is difficult to know how to help someone who chooses this way of life.
January 26, 2007