DEATH is uncomfortable, it is uncomfortable to read about, to talk about and to face. Most of us, when we consider how we will die, imagine being surrounded by loved ones, in the warmth and comfort of our own homes. But few imagine facing death in the cold, desperate and alone.

That is how these Worcestershire rough sleepers died; this is how they got there.

Larry Jones (real name unknown)

Mr Jones grew up in Worcester. He was a father and had some contact with his family. Mr Jones had struggled with alcohol over many years. He seemed to have used mental health services earlier in life, but not in his later years. Prior to his death, Mr Jones lived with his partner in a council house for 13 years.

The death of Mr Jones’s partner in December 2016 seemed to have had a significant impact on him. It appears that Mr Jones began to drink more alcohol. Mr Jones found it very difficult to stay at the shared property due to memories of his late partner.

Street drinking had been a feature of his life and attempts to engage with an alcohol rehabilitation provider from October 2015 came to nothing. The provider “closed the file” in January 2016 as there had been no contact.

Mr Jones remained in touch with his GP. There was clear awareness of physical and mental health needs and medication was prescribed. In November 2015 Mr Jones was admitted to hospital in connection with a chest condition. He did not want to stay however and efforts to ensure his engagement with treatment plans did not work out. He attended a Day Centre four times in November/December 2015 and was not engaging or taking his medication appropriately.

In 2017 services reported that Mr Jones was rough sleeping, street drinking and engaging in anti-social behaviour which brought him to contact with police. It came to be understood that he had effectively abandoned the property in which he had previously lived with his partner.

On September 26 2017 Mr Jones collapsed on a street in Worcester city and was taken by ambulance to hospital where he died aged 55 years.

Mr Jones had increased contact with the police up to the time of his death. Similarly, there were numerous contacts with ambulance service, local acute hospital and RSL services.

An inquest 2017 confirmed that Mr Jones had died from a cardiac arrest, biventricular hypertrophy, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD,) and ingestion of alcohol and morphine.

The Coroner concluded that Mr Jones’s death was related to the abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Terrance Frisby (real name unknown)

Originally from the Worcestershire area, Mr Frisby had travelled and lived in various parts of the country. He moved back to the Worcestershire area in October 2018.

Professionals who knew him most said Mr Frisby could be chatty at times, but he was perceived as somewhat “closed” and not easy to get to know. Mr Frisby didn’t seem “to mingle” and discussions with him could end in arguments. He appeared to be angry with the world. Perhaps he had reason to be so.

Multiple adverse experiences were identified in his early life. It seems that he experienced some unspecified abuse/violence in childhood. He was “in care” for some time and had lived with foster parents. Some early misuse of alcohol seemed to have stopped many years ago. He was in and out of jail and rehabilitation with a long history of offending (mostly theft, but also domestic violence) and short jail sentences, some of which were drug related. He was the victim of aggression himself.

Nevertheless, Mr Frisby had some periods of stability. He maintained his own tenancy between 2010-2014. He held down some jobs including as a care worker for a council social services department. He was also skilled in plastering. His interests were known as reading and walking.

In terms of relationships it is understood that he had married twice. In his first marriage, a child died near-term. The couple then lost custody of a second child who was later adopted.

He referred to this as ‘The Big Thing’. He stated that he had no current contact with any family members. When asked what he needed, he replied “Some love, man. Family environment. Support.”

Mr Frisby said that he wanted to be part of something real, part of real society and not just ‘the system.’

In Worcestershire, Mr Frisby was registered with a GP. He was diagnosed with depression and described his own mental health as poor. He lived rough including sleeping in a tent in a city centre location. The owners of a shop seemed to develop a positive understanding with him that he could sleep behind their premises and this seemed to work for both parties.

There was concern for Mr Frisby in the last year of his life due to behaviour which had been observed and it was thought that he was attempting to end his own life.

Not long before his death, Mr Frisby had stated that he wanted to see a psychiatrist. In the last year of his life, ambulances attended to him on three times, including at the location where Mr Frisby was found, dead. The Coroner delivered a verdict of death by suicide.

Remigiusz (Remi) Boczarski

Mr Boczarski was believed to have been born in Poland. He had family as they had contacted the managers where Mr Boczarski ended his own life to ask for an appropriate memorial to be placed at the location where he had died aged forty.

He was at least ten years younger when he arrived in the UK, therefore and had been catergorised as homeless in Worcestershire since 2011. It seems that Mr Boczarski moved to the UK after his partner had died. One can only speculate about what this experience meant to him. He found it difficult to find a route through “forms and red tape.”

Interviews suggested his English language was good and not perceived as a barrier for him in interactions with others.

He started a tenancy with a housing association in February 2013. He was found to be “very compliant.” However, his income stopped in January 2015 and this resulted in a court hearing in January 2016 and, by September 2016, an eviction.

In late 2017, housing staff met Mr Boczarski in Malvern Library where he appeared to be shy.

By now, Mr Boczarski had become well-known locally as he began to occupy one or other of two bus shelters in the vicinity as places to sleep and would often be seen outside the Waitrose supermarket in the town. The managers of the land, the bus-stops and the police were aware of his presence and interacted with him during this time.

It appeared that some local people were visiting Mr Boczarski, taking him food, blankets and the like. It was reported that someone played dominoes with him and children brought him pictures. One member of the public in the locality tried to help him practically over time. Mr Boczarski’s belongings were very orderly and folded away during the day.

There was some social work involvement in February 2018 following contact from the district council. The judgement at the time was that there were no specific adult social care needs and any discussion of mental health were not referred for further assessment. Contact with the Police was suggested due to the extreme cold temperatures at the time.

Mr Boczarski was referred into a “crash pad” provision where he stayed for about three weeks in March 2018. It was noted that he did not use the bed in the room at the time but slept in a sleeping bag on the floor. This behaviour was understood as something not uncommon amongst people who sleep rough for a long time i.e. this is where people can feel most comfortable and familiar.

Towards what became the end of his stay, Mr Boczarski began to choose to sleep outside and it became clear that Mr Boczarski was in possession of a knife. The provider contacted police in accordance with their policy that no weapons are allowed on the premises, in view of the needs of all people using the premises being paramount.

It was made clear on admission to Mr. Boczarski that no weapons are allowed. Police took Mr Boczarski from the premises via an arrest on 21 March 2018. He returned the next day to collect his belongings and move on.

The helpful member of the public in Malvern contacted the local Housing Officer in May 2018 and expressed concerned about Mr Boczarski’s mental health. He attended a GP appointment a couple of days before he took his own life with physical health worries about stomach symptoms for which he was booked-in for blood tests.

His befriender / advocate phoned NHS 111 trying to find accommodation for Mr. Boczarski when he seemed to feel unwell. It is understood the Call Handler spoke directly to Mr. Boczarski and asked him if he was contemplating suicide. He replied “yes and no.” It seems that it was not felt that this response was recorded properly by the responder.

Mr Boczarski’s body was found near Earnslaw Quarry car park, a twenty-minute walk from the bus stop he used for sleeping.

Ambulance services attended and performed CPR to no avail. One of the policing team who knew Mr Boczarski attended the scene shortly after the alert had been raised and was able to identify Mr Boczarski. The Coroner judged that Mr Boczarski had taken his own life due to a combination of anxiety, abdominal issues and alcohol misuse.

Paul (Jobey) Sparrey

Mr Sparrey had had a poor experience of childhood. This manifested itself arguably in the reports of drug dealing which began around January 2013. It appears that whilst a tenant at a social housing group he also begged on the street. A structured programme of contact was undertaken with regular visits to discuss his situation. He was given an eviction notice, after four months’ tenancy and the council regained possession by August 2013.

Sometime afterwards he occupied a derelict caravan which in due course he was asked to leave prior to living more “on the streets.” His life was affected by misuse of substances and there were instances attached to him of being a perpetrator of anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.

Mr Sparrey seemed to have a strong relationship with a worker from the specialist substance misuse rehabilitation service. By early June 2018, Mr Sparrey was one of a couple of individuals who would sit on a bench by the railway station drinking alcohol.

There appears to have been positive interaction between agencies in response to this and Mr Sparrey was found to be extremely courteous in his responses to staff and volunteers. There was concern about the environment generally and public protection orders were discussed as a possible action.

Around this time, the ambulance service attended to Mr Sparrey in response to his drinking at the funeral of a relative. He declined the hospital attendance offered on that occasion.

Local housing services reportedly found Mr. Sparrey quite “difficult to engage.” At the beginning of December Mr. Sparrey was begging in Malvern. He was allocated a housing officer who was proactive in looking for Mr. Sparrey.

The Officer saw Mr. Sparrey on five occasions in December. Mr. Sparrey was offered Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) accommodation around 19 December 2018 but he didn’t want to travel to Worcester where the service was located.

It appears that Mr Sparrey had long-standing physical health problems alongside drug use.

Ambulance services attended to him when the alert was raised on Christmas Day when he was found dead in the doorway of a local department store.

• These harrowing true life stories give us an insight into what it truly means to be a ‘rough sleeper’.

CEO of St Paul’s Hotel Jonathan Sutton explains why we should challenge the current narrative.

He said: “Rough sleeping is an extreme example of our national health inequalities yet the public narrative is too often that the rough sleeper is to blame because they are feckless. The Thematic Review captures the reality of their lives – here in the wealthy county of Worcestershire.

“A life of repeated relational trauma, poor or unsuitable housing, multiple visits to the services and lonely dis-connection. This sort of homelessness is a Public Health not just a housing problem and we demand it is rare, brief and non-recurrent.”