Homeless ex-soldier, 82, dies hours after being evicted from squat

Other homeless ex-serviceman took the man, known only as George, to hospital but he passed away with them at his bedside

Tragic: The pensioner was said to have died hours after he was evicted from a city centre squat (file picture)

A homeless ex-soldier died hours after he was evicted from a city centre squat.

Known only as George, the 82-year-old is believed to have passed away from bronchial pneumonia, a support group for veterans has revealed.

He had been living in a disused building in Manchester with 12 other homeless ex-servicemen before they were all evicted.

His ‘band of brothers’ walked with him to Salford Royal Hospital after he was taken ill and he died with four of them at his bedside.

Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network (SAFVN), which is in contact with the group, say they know little about George, but said his death was a damning indictment on support services available for homeless ex-service personnel across the country.

He is believed to have proudly worn his military service medals at all times and been homeless for around 20 years.

The tragedy follows legal wrangles over homeless camps in Manchester city centre, new council policies to open up derelict buildings for rough sleepers over winter and Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs letting a group of homeless people stay at the old Stock Exchange building on Norfolk Street, which they own and plan to convert into a luxury hotel.

Gesture: Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs allow homeless protesters to stay in their hotel

George was believed to have been staying in another city centre building and a court order had been obtained for his eviction, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Chris Barwood, chairman of the SAFVN, said he was a ‘forgotten hero’ who served his country, but had become ‘invisible’.

Calling for a national campaign to find homes for all ex-soldiers sleeping rough, she said: “Let George be the last homeless soldier on the streets. Let us ensure that no other veteran who has served his country is ever homeless or hungry in the future.”

The network, launched in January, has 70 members and is applying to be a charity. It offers help and support to services families and veterans. One of the group of 12 homeless men phoned the service to say George had been taken ill, before news of his death was relayed to them later.

Mrs Barwood, who has two sons in the military, said: “One member of the group rang us and said George had a bad chest and a cold and we told them to take him to hospital.

Heartbreaking: 'George' passed away with his friends by his side at Salford Royal Hospital

“His small band of brothers, 12 other ex-soldiers living on the streets of Manchester, were evicted from a building in the centre of the city. Although not an ideal resting place, at least it sheltered them from the rain, wind and cold.

“It seems incredible to me that we are turning our backs on our troops who have taken the Queen’s shilling, sworn the oath of allegiance and offered up their lives to keep us safe and yet in return we do nothing to ensure that they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies for their remaining years.”

The SAFVN are now in contact with the hospital in a bid to trace relatives. They also want to plan George’s funeral.

Mrs Barwood said: “Even if we find out just his Army number or military number then we can trace him. We don’t even have a surname. All we know about him was that he would always wear his medals. We believe that he has been on the streets for 20 years.”

Source :   mirror.co.uk 
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