Midhurst takes homeless Brian under its wing

ks16000227-3 Mid Homeless phot kate''Brian Simmonds and Lilly.ks16000227-3 SUS-161110-175918008
ks16000227-3 Mid Homeless phot kate''Brian Simmonds and Lilly.ks16000227-3 SUS-161110-175918008

A man who refuses to be parted from his beloved cat has been forced to live ‘rough’.

“I won’t give her up,” said Brian, “she is the last thing I have in life, I have lost everything else.”

Home for 56-year-old Brian Simmonds is now in a tent close to North Mill Bridge in Midhurst with five year old Lilly.

After being given notice to quit his home he contacted Chichester District Council (CDC) “I made countless telephone calls and wrote them letters, but I have had no help. They told me if I wanted to keep my cat I would have to sleep rough on the streets.”

The pair have been taken to the hearts of Midhurst people where staff at Tesco and Budgens have been helping him with food.

Charity shops have supplied clothes and blankets and students from nearby Midhurst Rother College have also brought him food.

Once a workaholic electrician, Brian owned a £350,000 house where he lived with his family: “But my life fell apart overnight for private family reasons that I find too distressing to talk about,” he said.

He suffers from depression and chronic irritable bowel syndrome exacerbated by stress.

Until January he lived with Lilly in a private flat, rented by CDC, in The Witterings. But he and all the other tenants were given notice to quit when the landlord decided to sell. “I got onto the district council as soon as I found out I would have to leave and I was told not to worry as there was two months before I had to get out.”

But, despite being given extra time by his landlord, Brian became homeless in September.

For three nights he slept on the beach but was rushed to St Richards Hospital with hypothermia after passing out in pouring rain. After being discharged he received hot food from the Stonepillow charity.

“I slept one night in a car park in Chichester and then in doorways. I went to the district council offices and told them I was sleeping rough but still there was no help. I had always wanted to live in Midhurst and eventually I got a tent and the police brought me to the town. My tent is home at the moment and I am waiting it out.”

He said: “I’d like to think all the kind people in Chichester and Midhurst who have helped me out.”

A CDC spokesman said: “When a person is made homeless and they are in priority need, we offer them a number of options, including emergency temporary accommodation. However, the majority of the housing options available to us do not allow pets, and this can make the situation far more difficult to resolve. In this situation, we always encourage the person to try and identify someone who can care for their pet, until a longer term solution is identified. We work closely with our partners to offer a package of support when someone is homeless and we always encourage them to access this. If anyone is in this situation, they can call us any time, any day on 01243 785166 during working hours or 01243 785339 out of hours.”

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