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Tributes to rough sleeper who died on streets of Bromley

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 May 2019

Piotr, originally from Poland, spoke five languages. He ended up living on the streets of Bromley town centre and died on May 12. Picture: Bromley Homeless Shelter

Piotr, originally from Poland, spoke five languages. He ended up living on the streets of Bromley town centre and died on May 12. Picture: Bromley Homeless Shelter

Archant

The death of a man who was sleeping rough on the streets must be a wake-up call that even in Bromley, people are sleeping in shop doorways.

Candles left in Bromley High Street as a tribute to Piotr. Picture: Tom  BullCandles left in Bromley High Street as a tribute to Piotr. Picture: Tom Bull

The man, named locally as Piotr, was originally from Poland. He spoke five languages, but had struggled with alcoholism and addiction.

He has been sleeping on the streets in Bromley town centre and died on Sunday, May 12.

Volunteers close to Bromley's rough sleeper community have paid tribute to Piotr and want his death to act as a wake-up call.

Stuart Voy, 61, has lived in Bromley for several years and had become acquainted with Piotr through his time as a volunteer at Bromley Town Church.

Tributes left in Bromley High Street to Piotr. Picture: Tom BullTributes left in Bromley High Street to Piotr. Picture: Tom Bull

He said: "He had a humility that would put me to shame. He would always so 'no', he was a genuinely nice guy.

"He was known on the street for giving things away to other people. If he had a sandwich, he would give part of his sandwich to other people."

One problem, volunteers and friends said, is that leafier suburbs such as Bromley aren't always thought of as having rough sleepers.

"Maybe that is one of the issues", Stuart said.

Piotr, originally from Poland, spoke five languages. He ended up living on the streets of Bromley town centre and died on May 12. Picture: Bromley Homeless ShelterPiotr, originally from Poland, spoke five languages. He ended up living on the streets of Bromley town centre and died on May 12. Picture: Bromley Homeless Shelter

"Even it if is someone stopping and saying hello to them, just to recognise they are human beings. Something has to change in Bromley, but I can't give you the answers.

"It is so, so complex. You can't solve it by throwing money at them. As a country we need to look at this increase, and not blame it on stereotypes and things that newspapers tell us to blame it on."

One friend, 39-year-old Layton, said Piotr was close to receiving help for his addictions. He and nearly 100 other people attended a memorial for Piotr on the high street this week.

He said: "He was a lovely man. You could tell that from the amount of people that turned out for him.

"Not enough was done for him. In the short, while I spoke to him I could tell he wanted help and support for his problems. He wanted to get into rehab but because of his situation it was proving very difficult.

"He'd been off the streets before but ended up back there. He didn't want to live his life like that. This country could have done more for him. We need to start doing more about this. I think this should be a wakeup call - he was only about 50, that's no age at all."

Bromley Town centre chaplain Rev Agnita Oyawale represents 18 churches in central Bromley which, she says, are extremely concerned about residents caught up in poverty.

She told the LDR service: "In the recent few months we have become increasingly aware that some things have happened in Bromley that we would like to see stopped.

"We are extremely disappointed at these cases because the help that they had longed for was very close. This has culminated in the death of a very popular homeless man.

"Along with crying out to God we also cry out to Bromley Council and ask that they will take extraordinary measures to help end the suffering of the homeless those caught up in addictions and those facing extreme poverty before it is too late.

"We are grateful for all that Bromley has done, but we we are due to be a borough of excellence and a borough that sets a new standard in tackling the issue of homeliness."

Police said Piotr's death is not being treated as suspicious.

A spokesman for Bromley Council told the Local Democracy Reporting service: "We are always saddened to hear of anyone taken ill on our streets in this way.

"The emergency services responded having been called by passers-by and the circumstances will now be considered by the coroner to look into identity and cause of death and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment specifically.

"Factually, compared to other parts of London, there are very few rough sleepers in Bromley with numbers being in single figures for a number of years but nevertheless, it remains an issue of concern.

"When the council is aware of someone apparently rough sleeping, they are contacted so that advice and support can be given, to enable suitable accommodation to be found.

"There are often issues facing individuals in these circumstances which sometimes means that the support offered is just not accepted. We work closely with StreetLink, an organisation that speaks to people we find sleeping rough and offers help and assistance as appropriate.

"Anyone concerned about the wellbeing of someone appearing to be sleeping rough should contact them or call 999 if they are in immediate danger or in need of urgent care."

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