The family of a Leighton Buzzard homeless man say they have taken tremendous comfort from the love and support the community has offered them in the weeks since his death.
A fundraising campaign was launched to pay for the funeral of 51-year-old Stephen Carver – with many thousands of pounds being contributed.
A statement to the LBO by the family, said: “We would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone for their support over the last few weeks.
“The love you have shown us has been a tremendous comfort, making an incredibly difficult time that little bit easier.”
Stephen’s funeral took place on June 14 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Leighton Buzzard, followed by a cremation at Bierton Crematorium, near Aylesbury.
The family said: “We were so touched by the amount of people who attended to help us say goodbye to Stephen.
“To be met by such a huge sea of faces was amazing. People who had known Stephen all his life, as well as new friends he had made and even school teachers came to pay their respects. Obviously there were many tears, but there was laughter too and a lot of love in that room. If Stephen could have seen it, he would have been blown away, just as we were.”
The money collected exceeded the funeral costs, and the original plan was that any surplus would go towards a trust fund in Stephen’s name aimed at preventing further street deaths in Leighton Buzzard. However that has now changed after further investigation into the practicalities of such a move.
The family added: “The funds raised for Stephen went way beyond target, we were and still are, staggered by your generosity. The total (after funeral costs) as at Friday 21 June 2019 was £1,596.07, Dillamore Funeral Services will still be accepting donations for another 4-6 weeks.
“We feel it important that we keep you updated as to what will happen with the surplus monies raised from Stephen’s Go Fund Me page.
“We, as a family, have decided (which we hope you will approve) to donate the money to charity. We have chosen Shelter, the charity for homeless people and MIND, the mental health charity, with the remainder being donated to Leighton Linslade Homeless Service in Leighton Buzzard who helped Stephen on many occasion.
“To move away from the idea of the Trust Fund wasn’t an easy decision to make. However, after researching the procedures required in order to create and administer the Trust Fund, we realised there are legal/accounting and possible tax implications that are beyond our knowledge and understanding.
“That said, we would like to say a special thank you to Chris [Keen] for setting up the Go Fund Me Page and for his friendship and support throughout. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this very complex and difficult issue.
“A popular opinion as to how to deal with homeless people is to ‘just find him/her a room’ or ‘get him/her in a flat’ It goes much further than this. Support is needed in not just helping to find such accommodation, but in helping that person get used to not being on the streets anymore. “Sometimes that becomes a way of life, and there is a period of adjustment that needs to be made that they will need assistance with.
“Also, if housing attempts are unsuccessful (for whatever reason) it is important that they are not ‘crossed off’ any lists and forgotten. We hope the money we have raised by your kind donations, will go towards helping someone get the support they need.
“There are plans for a charity football match in the future and we will keep everyone posted as to when this will be.
“Words will never be enough to say how grateful we are, but once again thank you.”