Charities concerned amid reports rough sleepers' bedding was removed days before 'kind-hearted' Ilford dad died
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 November 2018
Charities are concerned that rough sleepers' bedding was reportedly removed from the car park in which Sodhi Singh stayed days before he died.
Sodhi, 50, died on November 3 in King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, after more than a decade of sleeping rough in Ilford.
Charity worker Frank Charles found Sodhi unresponsive in Lynton House car park while carrying out his weekly breakfast distribution at around 7.40am on Friday, November 2.
“Normally there are two or three mattresses – but this time there was one,” said the Wanstead resident.
The Recorder has seen a photo Frank took that morning which appears to show Sodhi lying on the ground next to the mattress covered in two thin blankets.
Frank described Sodhi as lying “on the concrete” with a second rough sleeper lying atop the mattress.
Footage of the scene taken by the Recorder on October 27 shows at least three mattresses near the front of the car park. Another photo Frank took on Friday, November 9 shows the area cleared, save for a small pile of bedding.
A council spokeswoman said: “We’ve fully investigated the facts and prior to the death the car park was cleaned to remove faeces and urine, with broken glass and pieces of wood cleared to ensure the safety of people using the car park.
“None of the items belonging to the rough sleepers in the car park were removed and Mr Singh was found by our staff on his mattress.”
Sonia Lynch, director The Welcome Centre in St Mary’s Road, told the Recorder that Sodhi and three others visited the centre asking for bedding on Thursday before he died.
“The guys had said to me their sleeping bags had gone,” she said.
“Why would guys be asking for sleeping bags and blankets if they were not cleared?”
She visited the site on November 5, where she was told by two rough sleepers that their bedding and belongings had been removed on Thursday, November 1 and Saturday, November 3.
Homelessness agencies and authories are supposed to meet before any clearouts are undertaken in accordance with the Rough Sleeper Protocol, Sonia added.
She said that no meeting had been held.