Arsonists have destroyed all the belongings of a homeless man who spends his nights in Horsham.
Trevor, 48, carries all he has - clothes, some food and telephone numbers - in a rucksack. On Sunday he left it in what he knew from experience was a safe hiding place - an electricity cupboard behind St John’s Catholic Church in Horsham.
When he unexpectedly ended up sleeping the night at a friend’s house, he left the bag there overnight.
He returned to find someone had taken the bag out of the cupboard and set it alight.
Horsham firefighters were called at 1.15am on Monday morning to a skip outside the church in Springfield Road. The fire service said it was ‘well alight on arrival’ and deliberate.
Trevor said: “It was mainly my sleeping bag, clothes, three tins of food, a tin opener, some paperwork and my kids’ telephone numbers. I have to go through a long-winded process to get them back.”
It is not the first time he has has lost all he has.
He said: “It’s the sixth time it’s happened this year. There are three or four places in the town. It’s either that or you carry it round all day long. It’s ok in winter, but now in summer it’s too hot. I’m used to it. I’ve been homeless for 27 years. As soon as I start to get my clothes and life back together, someone takes it and throws it across a car park. It will be worse when the kids break up from school.”
As a homeless person, he has experienced much worse.
He added: “I’m used to people stabbing me, setting fire to me. Now have to go back to the Salvation Army, charity shops and start all over again.
“When you have got no money, it’s very hard to do.”
Trevor is a regular visitor at ARK Horsham, a charity based at the United Reformed Church, Springfield Road. Volunteers provide advice, friendship and hot meals three times a week for people in difficult situations, including those who are homeless.
One of the charity’s founders Lisa Burrell said: “It’s not uncommon for people to lose their possessions from where they consider hiding places. It may be something really simple - a memory, contact numbers for family members who they haven’t seen for a long time,
“The reaction I see in them is very similar to people who have been burgled and had their possessions taken. The loss is hard and it’s very deep.”
For senior support worker Maria Stack it was the first time she had seen someone experience this.
She added: “I just think it’s so sad to think that this man’s life, which he carried in his bag went up in smoke. It’s sad for it to happen in Horsham behind my parish church.”
ARK Horsham is open for information, donations and drop-in on Mondays 9am-3pm, Tuesdays 2pm-9pm and Thursday 9am-5pm. For more information call 07825 284054 or email firstname.lastname@example.org