'Happy ending' for homeless man who suddenly disappeared from Rustington bus shelter

A man who was sleeping rough in a Rustington bus shelter has now been found a home.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 5:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 5:58 pm
The man who was sleeping rough at this bus shelter in Rustington has now been rehomed

The man, whose first name is Michael, became a familiar face to people visiting Rustington seafront - but a few days ago, he disappeared with all his belongings, sparking concern.

But now, Peter Burrows, who befriended the man and helped him out, said the disappearance was because Arun District Council had found him somewhere to live.

The 58-year-old from Rustington wrote an open letter which he pinned to the shelter.

The man who was sleeping rough at this bus shelter in Rustington has now been rehomed

In it, he said: "This update is about you good people who must definitely take the credit for what you have done, as without your support there is a good chance this story may not have had such a happy ending.

"You all instilled faith and humanity in one man, without doubt.

"And for those of you who walked by without a glance over the last four months, and have stopped to read this letter don’t feel bad, just try to make a change to someone else’s life next time. Surely that’s what life is about isn’t it?"

Peter described Michael as a 'very unassuming man, softly spoken and was consistent in his manner and always very dignified in his speech' and with a big, white beard.

Soon after he started sleeping in the shelter, Peter and his wife visited him to make sure he had a hot meal.

He said: "I always asked him before I returned home if he needed anything else, and as always he said “I think I am alright”.

"He never asked me for one thing and never expected, he was just grateful when it came his way."

As the months passed, Peter saw more and more people stopping to talk to him. Soon, he had a small stockpile of goods, a pop up tent, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes socks and gloves along with endless supplies of food and drink that people had kindly supplied.

Last week, when he saw that Michael and his belongings were gone, Peter said his 'heart sank'.

But when he was shopping in Littlehampton on Monday, Peter bumped into Michael by the fruit section, with 'fresh clothes, a trimmed beard and with a smile on his face', he said: "He was beaming and overwhelmed, but not as much as I was.

"I asked him what had happened and he said a lady came to him ( I think from the council ) and said she had some temporary bed and breakfast accommodation for him and he intimated that this may be the end of his days on the streets.

"He said right now he can have a wash and most of all he has a bed."

Peter approached the paper asking for his letter to be shared.

In it, he said his reason for writing the note was for those people who helped Michael. To them, he said: "You enabled Michael to feel he was not worthless as human being.

"You didn’t neglect him and you enabled him to feel he really mattered to society. But most of all you cared and that’s what is truly important.

"He said to me today that he had been overwhelmed with what had happened to him whilst he was in the bus shelter and what people did for him, and he can only apologise that he

didn’t have time to thank you all."

An Arun District Council spokesman said: "Arun District Council has been working with a gentleman who was rough-sleeping in a shelter on the seafront at Rustington.

"We can confirm that, with continued support from the Council’s homelessness outreach worker, this individual has now found accommodation.”