The relative of a vulnerable rough sleeper in Northampton has paid thanks to fundraisers who have raised £1,088 to support his future off the streets, and will provide youth workers to engage with troublesome youths.
Terrance Welsh, 50, is alcohol dependent, suffers from early onset dementia and has been living on and off the streets for nearly 20 years after his family broke down when he lost his children in a tragic accident.
On the night of August 21, the rough sleeper was bedded down at the Wellingborough Road bus shelter next to Abington Park, when family members Bianca Todd and Stephen Miller, happened to be driving past the shelter. They noticed a number of people stood near him.
The couple got out the car and went to investigate when the pair saw flames rising from the bottom of her uncle-in-law's sleeping bag and a gang of youths stood nearby.
Bianca says a fellow rough sleeper, stood near to the incident, told her that the gang were responsible for starting the fire, though this has not been confirmed by police.
She said: "When he got to my uncle-in-law he found him quite drunk and asleep, but the more shocking thing was, that the sleeping bag and bedding he was using was on fire and so was he. These teenagers thought it was acceptable to set his bedding on fire while he was asleep inside it.
"Luckily the fire hadn't taken hold and the man came along when he did, because he was able to put most of it out by the time we arrived. When we got there my uncle's coat was smoking, and we had to stamp out some of the smouldering sleeping bag."
Bianca's uncle was miraculously unscathed and while she blames the culprits for starting the incident she also believes cuts to youth services is a contributing factor to why youngsters feel the need to carry out this sort of behaviour in Northampton.
Now, Bianca's organisation, Community Court Yard, has promised to provide youth workers to patrol the streets and parks in Northampton to engage with children in a bid to give them a sense of belonging again.
She added: "We can just condemn these young people or we could try and be the solution for them. Historically we used to have a really strong youth service and that's gone.
"I want to call on the people of Northampton - if this story shocks you enough, share it on social media. Then come and be part of the solution."
The £1,088 raised on the Crowdfunding page will be used either for respite care for Terrance, a contribution towards a longer term home or for a project ran by Community Court Yard where youth workers hand out provisions, in rucksacks, to the homeless community.
"What people need to remember is that we all belong to Northampton and we all need to care for each other again," she added.
If you want to volunteer as a youth worker you can call Bianca at Community Court Yard on 07925730772, search for the service on Facebook, or you can continue donating to keep Terrance off the street here.
A police spokeswoman yesterday (Tuesday) confirmed that no one had been arrested and the force is still appealing for anyone with information or any witnesses to come forward.