Call for public to do more to help homeless access services in Boston following death of ‘Elliot’

CCTV image police have released of Elliot in McDonald's
CCTV image police have released of Elliot in McDonald's

Homeless charities have called on the public to help ensure rough sleepers are ‘on the system’ and in contact with the right agencies following the death of a man known only as ‘Elliot’ in Boston last month.

Police are appealing for information after ‘Elliot’, died from natural causes after collapsing in McDonald’s on April 11, however, investigators have not been able to establish his surname or trace his family members since then.

The e-fit of Elliot

The e-fit of Elliot

Homeless charities have called on the public to help ensure homeless people are ‘on the system’ and in contact with the right agencies following Elliot’s death.

Elizabeth Hopkins, Chief Executive of Centrepoint Outreach, told The Standard said the case was ‘tragic’. She said Elliott had not engaged with Centrepoint and so was not registered on the system.

She said: “It’s very sad when you hear about situations like this.”

The charity dealt with 53 people through its drop-in service last month, but Elizabeth acknowledges there are a number of people not on any sort of record - including those too proud to ask for help, those who may be ‘sofa surfing’ and those who just don’t know where to turn.

She said there could be a variety of situations why a homeless person had not engaged with agencies or authorities before but asked people to report homeless people or even speak to them if possible.

She said: “The important thing people can do is help make a person aware of the agencies that can help.

“I would encourage people to talk to anyone they see who appears to be homeless, have a chat, perhaps ask them if they know where to go, or direct them to services.”

If you’re uncomfortable talking to someone you can also call organisations such as P3, who run outreach programmes in the county.

Callers can give the location of a homeless person and volunteers will see if they can find them to help.

Jonny Goldsmith, P3 Operations Manager, Lincolnshire, said: “P3 is deeply saddened to hear about the death of Elliott and that we were unaware of his situation.

“Our team will continue to conduct regular early morning outreaches across Boston and to follow-up on all reports of people seen rough sleeping county-wide.

“This sad case really highlights the importance of the public in helping us to identify those in need of our service.

“Our Boston team cover a large area and we rely on your calls to alert us to anyone seen rough sleeping – please do ring us or use the Street Link mobile app to share this information. We can then act on this and direct our support to those people.

“To do this we have a freephone number which accepts referrals twenty-four seven, so if you see someone rough sleeping please take the time to contact us on 0808 281 0280.

“Once a person is known to us we will work with them to source safe accommodation. A big part of this is establishing their trust – only then can we begin the process of reconnecting them with their community and rebuilding their life.”

Elliot, who is believed to have been in his late 50s or 60s, was a homeless man who regularly visited McDonald’s night and day and often slept near Aldi - both located in Queen Street. He was also known to have visited a number of local betting shops.

Officers believe he may have a daughter living in Wrangle and Elliot himself may have originated from the Carlisle area.

A force spokesman said Elliot could often be seen wearing a black baseball cap, was a white man of a medium build, around 5ft 5inches tall, had dark but greying hair and wore reading glasses.

Police have released a CCTV image of Elliot in McDonald’s and an e-fit image of him in the hope that people might recognise him.

Following publication of the story on Facebook, people have paid tribute to Elliot, with Kimberley Tyzack-Morley saying on The Standard’s Facebook: “This man was such a gentleman, he was a proud man, I met him when I first started working at McDonald’s 13 years ago.

“I never knew he was homeless, even after I left working at McDonald’s he would always stop and have a chat in the street.

“Someone must know more about him.”

Debbie Simms wrote on the Lincs Police Facebook post: “We used to have some right laughs with him.

“We used to have Stargate and the soaps on the bus station end of the shop with subtitles because of lack of speakers.

“He used to keep us company at night when single manning. There was nothing malicious about the practical jokes.

“We used to give him food and drink. It was only banter.”

Nick Meeds added that: “This day and age in this country we should not have people on the streets!

“I know it’s sometimes their own fault but not everyone has a family to fall back on when they make a mistake in life.”

Anyone with details should call police on 101, quoting reference 413 of April 11.