In the small town of Aylesford in Kent, homeless man, Daniel Gauntlett died last Saturday night on the steps of an abandoned bungalow which was due to be demolished. As temperatures dropped to -2C, Mr Gauntlett finally succumbed to the damp and chilling weather.
A local resident told Kent Online “He was a very nice man apparently. He used to ask for money but not for drink. He used to buy pasties from the supermarket. It was so sad. Especially when the houses are empty.”
His body was found by a local passer-by the next morning who spotted his body from the pavement and called the police.
The bungalow where Mr Gauntlett died is due to be demolished, and police had previously been called when Mr Gauntlett attempted to break into the bungalow to find shelter. Mr Gauntlett abided by the law and it cost him his life.
At an inquest, Mr Gauntlett was found to of died from hypothermia.
Another homeless man, Douglas Poynton, 45, died in the town on the same night.
What is particularly sad about Mr Gaunlett’s situation is that he died right outside of a place that could have provided him with valuable shelter from the damp, bitter wind that was the contributing factor in his death.
Another local resident said “They took him up to the hospital about a fortnight before when they’d found him and social workers got involved. It was just the bitter weather. I know a lot about cold weather because I was in the Canadian army. I’ve known it drop to minus 70 but the trouble with this country is the dampness.”
Unfortunately, there are those in society who are not seen as a priority by welfare services, and for a man of 35 it is difficult to find accommodation when families and others are given priority for the small number of available properties.
Mr Gauntlett’s story is not unique. All over the country there are homeless people who are unable to get help from welfare providers because their needs are not classed as being ‘high enough’ on the local authorities lists. Ironic when there are thousands upon thousands of empty properties around the country, many owned by local authorities, which are boarded up and unused.
The charity Empty Homes, estimates that there are in the region of 2,600 empty local authority properties and 2,200 empty housing association properties in the South-East of England, many of which could be made habitable with a little investment.
With government cuts hitting local councils hard, it may become more difficult to find funding to provide accommodation for the homeless as the statistics for rough sleeping continue to rise across the UK. An obscene situation when MPs waste taxpayer’s money on their own grocery bills.