Mum, aged 38, dies while sleeping rough in Northampton

A Northampton woman who lost contact with homelessness services has died.

Wednesday, 2nd January 2019, 11:22 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:29 am
'J' could often be seen near the Iceland supermarket in St James

The woman, who has so far only been identified as 'J' - which is thought to be her forename initial - was found on New Year's Day morning in St James.

The 38-year-old was well-known in the area and was often seen around the Iceland supermarket in Harlestone Road.

Stan Robertson, of the 16:15 project, which feeds homeless people in Northampton with cooked breakfasts, has known the 'J' for 12 months and she had told him she was a mum.

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'J' could often be seen near the Iceland supermarket in St James

He said: "She was a private person and didn't really tell her story much but I knew a little bit about her. "

"She had children so that's going to be hurtful.

"She was someone who fell through the gaps in the system a little bit. She couldn't get into the night shelter because she didn't have ties to Northampton

"But she never bleated on about the hardships of her life. She accepted the life she had chosen."

Mr Robertson said drunken people on nights out had made 'J' feel unsafe so she had stopped visiting the town centre in the last three months.

But she had found two fellow rough sleepers who were regular companions in St James.

Mr Robertson said: "She was just a lovely lady. When you got beyond her troubles she was just genuine.

"She just wanted people to talk to her and recognise her as a human being.

"She was one of the really nice people out there."

The Hope Centre has issued a statement expressing sadness over 'J's' death.

Robin Burgess, the Hope Centre's chief executive, said: "One of our service users discovered her and we know her.

"She hasn't been in for a year. She had dropped out of the day centre and was sleeping rough with others for safety."

Mr Burgess said the Hope Centre tries to motivate service users into seeing the positives in their lives, such as relationships.

But sometimes people choose to stop using the day centre and drop off the Hope Centre's radar, he said, and the risks to their welfare can become "enormous".

Mr Burgess said: "The point to make is that the support people receive in the day centre is a preventative factor in the cause of death. We can help them towards jobs and housing.

"When we lose contact with someone, sadly we don't have the chance to help them."

In a statement on Facebook, Mr Robertson said he urged people to think of 'J' as a human being.

"Every death of someone on the street is a needless death because no one should be left for any reason to live in such a way.

"It's important over these next few days that we are all aware of how something like this can and does affect our street community.

"Please be sensitive, and remember these are people with feelings, needs, emotions and grief to contend with, not a means to social media likes or a platform for our own self-promotion."