Desperate pair forced to live in a graveyard

Two homeless men have been forced to live in tents in a graveyard because they can't find anywhere to live.

Monday, 24th July 2017, 10:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:02 pm
Homeless: Mark Lee and Paul Laben SUS-170721-122224001

The men - Mark Lee and Paul Laben - are now desperate to find homes after being attacked and their tents set on fire.

They have been living in the cemetery in Denne Road, Horsham - which is maintained by Horsham District Council - for the past few months.

They say they are frequently urged by council security guards to pack up their stuff and move out.

But, said Paul, 50: “We haven’t got anywhere to go.” He said they had approached a number of organisations for help, along with the council, “but no-one can give us a roof over our heads.”

Father-of-three Paul first became homeless after the breakdown of his marriage when he had to leave the rented family home in Nuthurst.

Meanwhile, Mark, 49, was made homeless after a row with his parents at the family home in Cowfold.

The men say that they have been told by Horsham Council that they do not qualify for help because they are not ‘vulnerable.’ “But we are vulnerable,” said Paul. Both he and Mark were attacked - and their tents and food burnt - on Thursday night.

On another occasion their tents have been ripped. Paul added: “I have also been attacked in the streets; I’ve had people stamp on my head and urinate on me.”

The pair said that, before Thursday night’s attack, they felt safer in the cemetery because council security guards locked the gates each night.

“We’re two middle aged guys whose lives haven’t gone right at the moment,” said Paul. “We’re only homeless - we’re not criminals.”

The pair are thankful for the Salvation Army who provide them with regular food parcels, clean clothes and a place to wash.

“They have been very good, but they can’t provide somewhere to live.”

A spokeswoman for Horsham District Council said: “Both the council’s housing team and Worthing Churches Together Homeless Project team are working with these two gentlemen, offering them advice and support they need to find appropriate and safe solutions to their present situation.”