Simon Lissauer was a homeless man who had slept in a garage in Ludlow for at least ten years. He died Wednesday night in a hotel provided by Shropshire Council to give him shelter during the second lockdown and because he had complained of being unwell.
The death of Simon has affected many people. His friends here in Ludlow and beyond. The team of council officers who had been working so hard to help him. There is a sense of failure amongst us. Simon could be difficult to deal with at times. But we were getting closer to get him into permanent accommodation when his body gave way.
Homeless people, rough sleepers, are rarely totally isolated from the daily lives most of us live. They have friends. Often at some distance but also here in Ludlow. Their difficulty is finding a way a way out of their situation. Accepting they need help. Accepting the help offered. Many feel a sense of failure. Of weakness. Often their mental health gives a distorted sense of reality. Sometimes an offer of help can seem a threat.
Councillors and council officers have been working with officers to help Simon Lissauer for a decade. But it was real challenge to get him to accept help, including accommodation, from the council. Ludlow hotelier Cedric Bosi provided an apartment for him during the first lockdown. Then Simon moved back to the garage off Gravel Hill. A lot of people in Ludlow had helped him over the years. But we all learnt that he was not able to help himself. We finally thought we had made a breakthrough on getting him into accommodation when he died of a suspect heart attack in a hotel provided by Shropshire Council as emergency accommodation.
Simon had a wide circle of friends. More than I knew of before his death. He was not an anonymous homeless man but well known and liked in Ludlow.
He was part of our community. One of ourselves. But a man who found himself in different, more unfortunate circumstances. I regarded him as friend though not always an easy one.
He lived in the garage for around a decade. This was not his first spell of homelessness.
People in Ludlow helped him as he struggled to grasp the realities of his plight and to engage with the support we wanted to offer. That included housing. Simon hated being called homeless or a rough sleeper. He missed a meeting last week with myself and the rough sleeper officer. Later on Monday, he asked for accommodation because of the cold snap. On Tuesday, he told me had been very unwell and had been to a GP. I met with him briefly and he gave me more details. Shropshire Council immediately offered him a place in a lodge we are using during the lockdown. Simon moved in. But his health was worse than we knew. An ambulance was called by his GP but Simon was beyond resuscitation when it arrived.
We were just making progress with getting Simon into social accommodation, helped by his friends in Ludlow and from schooldays. We have a sense of disappointment, even of failure, that after years of work to bring him in from the cold, his body gave way just as we were at last making headway.
He is survived by a sister and leaves three children, a ex-wife and a lot of friends.