A campaign to raise funds for the funeral of a homeless man found dead in a Leighton Buzzard park topped more than £1,630 within hours of being launched.
Police say the death of the man, named locally as Stephen Carver, who was discovered in Parson’s Close Recreation Ground near to Duncombe Drive shortly after 5pm on Thursday, May 23, is not being treated as suspicious.
Mr Carver had formerly resided at the Black Horse shelter on North Street and regularly returned to the shelter for meals.
An eyewitness said: “My friends and I were walking from Ridgeway Court through the alley to Parson’s Close Recreation Ground.
“When we got to the small bridge it was cordoned off and there was a police officer there. He stopped us going through and said there had been a serious incident.”
A Beds Police spokesman said: “We were called at around 5.10pm on Thursday to a field off Duncombe Drive, Leighton Buzzard after reports a body had been discovered.
“Officers attended and a man was pronounced dead at the scene. The death is not being treated as suspicious.
“His next of kin have been informed and a file has been passed to the coroner.”
Mr Carver is understood to have been a talented football player earlier in life. At the time of his death, he was living in a tent by Clipstone Brook.
Already an online fundraiser has been set up to pay the costs of his funeral, which had amassed over £1,630 at the time of going to press. Organisers stated any additional funds will go towards a new project to help the homeless in Leighton Buzzard. Mr Carver’s daughter thanked the public for their support.
Paul Latimer, manager at the Black Horse homeless shelter, paid tribute to Mr Carver and said: “He was a lovely, lovely man, very well known and well liked around town.
“He’d been in Leighton Buzzard all of his life and whenever he was here, he used to help out.
“As a charity, we feel we did what we could to help him. He used to come every night for his dinner and the last time we saw him was only on Monday.”
Mr Latimer said that funding problems have made outreach work increasingly difficult for charities.
He said: “There are guys out there, begging in town, but they don’t get the same consistency of service.
“What we need is funding for someone - one or two people - to work exclusively with clients. Instead, tenders go out to different organisations who don’t always deliver what they promised, and the clients answer the same questions over and over again.”
To donate to the online fundraiser for Mr Carver’s funeral costs, please visit www.gofundme.com/stephen-carvers-funeral.
> The Black Horse shelter is hosting an open day for the public on Saturday, June 1, from 10.30am to 3pm. Volunteer coordinator Rosie George said: “This will be our first open day, to allow members of the public to learn something of the work we do.
“The day is organised to mark the national celebration of Volunteers’ Week and it is an opportunity for the trustees of the charity to say thank you to our fantastic volunteers.”