A homeless man has been living in a tent in Stoke Park woods for the last three weeks.
When local carvery chef Desmond Spiers (28) lost his home and his job he turned to Eastleigh Borough Council for help but then rejected their offer of a space at a night shelter in Winchester because he wants to stay in Eastleigh and says that a previous bad experience means he feels safer sleeping in a tent.
Councils have a statutory duty to help homeless people but, says Mr Spiers, although the council were supportive and tried to find him alternative accommodation – there was nothing available other than the offer of a place in the night shelter.
Speaking at his muddy Stoke Park campsite Mr Spiers told me he had lived in care as a young person and had experienced a life of living in private rented accommodation.
He said he would never be able to afford to buy his own place on a chef’s salary, only to be able to rent a room in a shared house on a short lease and he now wanted the security of tenure and fair rent that social housing provides.
But because Mr Spiers is over 25 and a single man, he is not classed as a high priority for housing and there is an acute shortage of social housing in the area.
When I asked Mr Spiers if he understood that there were people with greater needs he replied:
“I agree kids are the main priority when it comes to housing and I appreciate that there are other people struggling out there – I’m with them all the way – but at the same time does it mean I have to live like this?”
A council spokesman confirmed they had met with Mr Spiers several times but he had declined the offer of a place at the night shelter.
The spokesman said that they were sympathetic to Mr Spiers adding:
“We are continuing to advise and assist him but he is not classed as a high priority case.”
Mr Spiers has started a facebook group “Homeless in Bishopstoke”