Secret struggle of tragic homeless man found burned to death in van where he was living
The tragedy behind a homeless man found burned to death in the back of his van in an Asda car park has rocked common misconceptions about rough sleepers.
Two weeks ago, emergency crews were called after smoke was seen pouring from a van parked outside an Asda store in Reddish, in Stockport.
A man, who has now been identified as David Alex Roseblade was found dead at the scene and had been living in the van.
Mr Roseblade was a homeless man who had been living in the back of the vehicle for a number of months Manchester Evening News reports.
The tragedy has highlighted the plight of the region’s ‘hidden homeless’ – and challenged misconceptions about people living on the streets.
It is understood that despite his circumstances, Mr Roseblade held down a full-time job and was in the process of finding secure accomodation.
He was known to staff at a resource centre for homeless people, The Wellspring, in Stockport, and had been accessing the charity’s services for around two weeks.
Staff at the charity say Mr Roseblade was referred to the centre by a friend to help him address his housing situation.
Relatively little is known about Mr Roseblade, who was described as a ‘hardworking and pleasant man’ aged between 35 and 45 and from the Stockport area.
Jonathan Billings, project manager at The Wellspring, was approached by the police to help identify Mr Roseblade’s vehicle shortly after his death.
“There’s a common misconception that all homeless people are rough sleepers or people who beg in the street,” he said.
“But a lot of homeless people are in full time employment and sleeping in cars.
“It then becomes very difficult for people to attend appointments with housing officers in the day to resolve the situation.
“They can’t attend appointments in the day because they’re at work. And many people don’t want their employers to know they don’t have a home.”
Jonathan says Mr Roseblade’s death highlights how quickly people can become homeless and find themselves in a vulnerable position.
“Really we would like to highlight how homelessness can affect anyone,” he adds.
“David’s death is particularly tragic because he was a hard-working, very pleasant man who had the rest of his life ahead of him.”
Mr Roseblade’s van had been parked on the Asda car park since 4pm on the Friday before his death on March 3.
It is not known how the fire started inside the vehicle. Fire investigators are still investigating the tragedy, with one line of enquiry that smoking materials may have been to blame.
Staff at Asda would not comment on whether the vehicle was parked there regularly, but according to Jonathan it is common for people living out of their vehicles to use supermarkets, where parking is generally free.
A police investigation into his death is ongoing and Mr Roseblade – has still yet to be formally identified.
His death, however, has been passed to the South Manchester Coroner’s Court where an inquest will be opened.
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