Arundel business owners ‘intimidated’ by homeless man

Arundel cathedral. Picture: Steve Cobb
Arundel cathedral. Picture: Steve Cobb

Business owners in Arundel feel intimidated by a homeless man who has been wetting himself and behaving aggressively, according to one businesswoman.

The man arrived in the town centre on Sunday, and according to Jan Martello, who works at Arundel Publishing in High Street, Arundel, he has been there since.

She said the 6ft-tal was drinking cider, laying across the doorways of businesses and wetting himself in the street, intimidating people who work there.

She said: “He lays straight across the pavement so that people have to step over him. He is talking to the tourists, begging for money and is very drunk.”

Sergeant Ian Cheesman, of the Arun and Chichester prevention team, said: “Police are aware of the man concerned and have had many interactions with him.

“Officers have liaised with the local business community and it is fair to say that reports are mixed in terms of his behaviour. Police have encouraged the man to attend a multi-agency meeting which will look at his homeless status and seek to support him.”

According to Ms Martello, he is ‘very aggressive’ when questioned. She said: “The lady who runs the contemporary art gallery downstairs was afraid to come out of her showroom because she was so scared of him.

“As businesses, we are all incensed.

“This is my town, and I don’t think we need this here, showing the tourists that is what we are like.”

John Holmstrom, chief executive of Worthing Churches Homeless Project, which offers services to the homeless in Littlehampton and Arun, said business owners should continue to report incidents to the police so they had the full picture, but added: “We shouldn’t demonize homeless people: they are still human beings, someone’s father or brother, and they can change.”

In the charity’s experience of smaller market towns like Burgess Hill or Haywards Heath, John said they would get the occasional rough sleeper but would not have the provision to help them – despite their needs being as complex as rough sleepers in larger towns and cities like Brighton and Worthing.

About three quarters of homeless people who came into contact with the charity had underlying mental health problems, and many had alcohol or drug addictions, John said. He added: “They are using alcohol and maybe drugs to anaesthetize the emotional pain, whether it be childhood trauma or something else which has triggered their mental health issues.”

Because many had come from institutions, such as care or prison, there was often a mistrust in the homeless community against services like the police or councils – so he said it was important that they fostered good relationships with the man.

He said: “People don’t choose to sleep rough in our experience, but they stop coping, so in a sense they are stranded and they need a way out of it.”

For further advice, people can contact Worthing Churches Homeless Project on 01903 680 740 or Stonepillow on 01243 537 934.