Homeless issue ‘getting worse’ as body is found

Kevin Dobson, the project manager of CAP, Wakefield
Kevin Dobson, the project manager of CAP, Wakefield

A charity worker who helps the homeless has spoken out following the death of a man in the city centre this week, saying increasing numbers of people are being forced onto Wakefield’s streets.

The body of a 31-year-old man was found to the rear of Montgomery’s bar on Westgate on Monday morning.

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Police say there were no suspicious circumstances, but the man had been a regular at the Community Awareness Programme (CAP)- a charity which provides meals and support at its Market Street shelter.

Kevin Dobson, the project manager, said he was saddened by the man’s death but said at least 13 other homeless people had died in the district during the past year.

Mr Dobson said: “It does not come as a surprise, as sad as it is to say.

“We are watching them die - you end up getting used to it and we don’t want that to happen. We don’t want to become desensitised to this because it shouldn’t be happening.”

He said that between 40 and 90 clients are using the shelter every day to receive a meal and support. All are assessed and referred, with the list continuing to grow, on average, by eight new clients each week.

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“There’s been a surge again - a 10 per cent increase in the demand for the service this year,” he added.

While the government recently announced it had plans to end homelessness by 2027, Mr Dobson says attitudes towards those living on the street still remain a major problem locally, particularly for those who hail from Eastern Europe.

He says most had jobs, but once the opportunities dry up they are unable to claim benefits and return home.

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Mr Dobson said: “For me there’s an awful misconception that these people are coming over here and we apparently pay them lots of benefits and give them flat screen TVs.

“A lot of these guys have been working here for years, they lose their jobs and they lose everything.

“We are paying them nothing and they are dying on our streets.”