As the shrine to Shelley Pollard grows on the Kingsbridge in Canterbury where she used to sit, a note from one of her children has appeared.
Shelley died on Wednesday night after collapsing outside the Eastbridge Hospital.
The following day it emerged that Shelley, 42, who had grown up in Canterbury, was a mother-of-three.
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Her mother still lives in the same London Road Estate street where she grew up.
She explained that Shelley had three children. One of them left the note with flowers on the bridge.
It read: “To mum you were the most loving and caring woman I’ve ever met and you’re safe now with shelter and warmth and rest in peace with grandad love you lots xxxxxxxxxx.”
This ought to remind us that every rough sleeper is someone’s child, possibly someone’s brother or sister or father or, as in Shelley’s case, someone’s mother.
I’ve sat through numerous inquests at Canterbury’s coroner’s court for rough sleepers who have perished on our streets.
And in all but a handful of cases, loved ones and relatives were among those who came to the hearings.
That rather undermines the idea that rough sleepers are society’s rejects. Instead, they can become homeless for a variety of reasons – most notably uncontrollable drink or drug addictions.
Shelley’s friends tried to get her off the heroin and crack she was taking. They say her mother Susan would have gladly taken her in if she could have weaned herself off the drugs.
Sadly, she couldn’t and she became desperately ill. An inquest will determine to what extent the drugs and a life on the streets played in her death.
But the truth is she had a family. She just couldn’t live with them.
- Shelley’s family are trying to raise £4,000 for her funeral. Click here if you can help.