Life on the streets has cost the lives of two city men

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The memorial left for Kev Gore at the spot in Palace Street where he often sat

Two men have become the first rough sleepers from Canterbury to die this year.

Both were drug-takers and both had complicated lives.

Last year a total of 12 died, according to the homelessness charity Catching Lives.

The younger one, Wesley Adyinka, was 37 and appears to have died in Maidstone as a result of a knifing after a disagreement with drug suppliers.

More is known about the second man, 54-year old Kev Gore, a constant reader who used to sit outside the Crooked House bookshop with his dog Elvis.

Drugs played a part in both men's tragic stories.
Kev Gore’s dog Elvis is now looking for a new home

He had been given accommodation but found it difficult to manage the responsibility.

Drug-dealers are understood to have regularly bullied him to the extent that they stored their merchandise in his home, a practice known as cuckooing.

Penny Wilson, project manager at Catching Lives, had known him for years, and remembers him arriving one day at the Catching Lives centre by Canterbury East station, with a Staffordshire bull terrier puppy in his pocket.

“Because he was so intimidated by the drug-dealers, he still spent a lot of time on the streets with Elvis,” she says.

“Getting him to engage regarding his accommodation was a bit difficult.”

Mentoring is now being offered by the charity to its clients who go into flats but this has service only started last year, and that was after Mr Gore was given his flat.

Not much is known about the background of either man. “He was very, very guarded about his past,” said Ms Wilson, taking about Mr Gore.

“But I think there was a relationship breakdown. Once people start on that route, and if they can’t bring themselves back, then they often shut down.”

But he was “very, very popular” with Canterbury people, she says. 

The exact cause of death for Mr Gore is not certain and, as with Mr Adyinka, a post-mortem was commissioned. He died in the early hours of February 3.

A friend carried out resuscitation techniques for an hour without success. In a state of shock, he then brought Elvis to the Catching Lives centre.

About 10 dogs are accompanying the 33 people which Catching Lives estimates are now sleeping rough in Canterbury. 

Dog-owning Ms Wilson helps look after the dogs, providing food parcels as and when needed and signing them up for vaccinations and with a vet scheme. Leads and blankets are also provided.

After his owner’s death, Elvis was briefly fostered out by the charity Angels for Dogs but had to be returned to the charity as the prospective owners had a dog which did not take to the new arrival.

He is still looking for a home. Ms Wilson said: “It’s amazing how resilient the dogs are, and how loyal. They are a friend, company and protection. To tell a homeless person to part with a dog is like telling a mother to part with a child.”

The funeral has not yet taken place for Mr Gore. It can take three months for this to happen, says Catching Lives.

If his family cannot be traced then his funeral will be a short event lasting a few minutes.

Catching Lives will be represented if it is notified about the funeral. But, says Ms Wilson, some of the funerals happen without mourners, and “without music or readings”.

The Canterbury winter shelter for homeless people closes on the last day of March. During its six month opening, the shelter has provided accommodation to 70 people — 59 men and 11 women. 

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