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Lady on underpass steps by W H Smith
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china girl


Posts: 35
Joined: May 2008
Post: #1
25-07-2014 09:50 PM

Did anyone notice a woman sitting on the steps last night and again this morning?
By the way, I am not writing this with a holier than thou attitude - I am one of the people who crossed to the other side of the road (steps in this case). Apologies in advance if I've got this scenario completely wrong - I'd be only too happy!

Today just left me slightly disappointed. We moved to Forest Hill from one of the nicest roads in Camberwell fifteen years ago; although I liked living in such a mixed, edgy area I don't miss having endless wing mirrors snapped off, car windows being smashed in broad daylight just to nick an old radio with no-one taking a blind bit of notice... anyway I digress...

Last night we (him indoors & me) had been out for a meal and when we were walking home at about 10pm saw this woman sitting on the steps, initial impression just a 'normal' quite up together person looking a bit sad. Him indoors said 'shall I go and ask if she's OK' but I wanted to get home so we walked on.

This morning step lady was still there sitting in exactly the same spot. Another passer by (with her young daughter) had also seen her last night so we asked if she was all right and step lady said she'd slept there overnight. She had a thick tweed jacket on and must have been sweltering in the full sun; this was shortly before that massive thunderstorm. Then the security guy from Smiths came over and we briefly told him our concerns. I found out later that a community policeman had been called and presumably step lady has now had professional help.

I just wondered if I'm being naive. Step lady didn't look like she'd be a menace to anyone. Maybe she's just down on her luck & didn't want to be pitied, and/or has mental health problems, but I'd like to think that in this neck of the woods we're more than a bunch of callous *****!

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Snazy


Posts: 1,495
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #2
26-07-2014 03:02 PM

Forgive me if I has misread the post, but I am unsure exactly what wrong doing by any party you feel might have occurred. Is it the police involvement ?

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robbrockley


Posts: 90
Joined: Jun 2013
Post: #3
26-07-2014 06:29 PM

Like Snazzy, China Girl, I am not quite sure what your issue is or what point you are trying to make. Sounds like there was someone who needed some help who has now got it.

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china girl


Posts: 35
Joined: May 2008
Post: #4
27-07-2014 12:19 PM

My point is that this woman was, to my knowledge, sitting there for at least 16 hours and it would appear that no one took a blind bit of notice (or thought to seek help).

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #5
27-07-2014 12:45 PM

There's no way of knowing how many people may have approached her before you did and what her response was. Let's not jump to conclusions.

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china girl


Posts: 35
Joined: May 2008
Post: #6
27-07-2014 01:01 PM

Good point rshdunlop - that's why the wording on the original post was perhaps a tad nebulous, and also why I tempered my reply with 'it would appear...'

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #7
27-07-2014 02:43 PM

Well, you did the right thing, and I'm glad she got some a help.

I wonder if few of the people who passed her in those sixteen hours did so twice, as you do, many hours apart. it may not have been obvious to many people how long she'd been there. I'd rather assume that than think we're all heartless here in FH.

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Snazy


Posts: 1,495
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #8
28-07-2014 11:38 AM

I have to agree, unless you make numerous trips past, or work adjacent, it is indeed hard to know how long someone has been there. I would like to think that a few have approached her. However there are a lot of people like this 'known' to the local police. The police tend to keep an eye on them and leave them to their own devices most of the time.

Some people have very complex stories, and while they appear to beg for interaction and attention, in fact want the complete opposite.

That said, well done for being one of the ones caring enough to approach and have your say about the matter. I usually keep myself to myself, but like yourself, when distress is obvious, will always make a point.

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china girl


Posts: 35
Joined: May 2008
Post: #9
28-07-2014 12:36 PM

Thanks rshdunlop & Snazy - I rarely post on the forum but am glad I did speak up; I was feeling rather demoralised on Friday about what had happened to our oft mentioned 'community spirit' in SE23. Your observations make a lot of sense!

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nottinghillbilly


Posts: 458
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #10
31-07-2014 11:46 PM

I think "step lady" was back again at around 4pm this afternoon.
There was a middle aged slender woman sitting on the steps to the underpass (on the eastern side) wearing many thick layers of clothes with a few bulging bags,
She wasn't begging just sitting there, and although she appeared clean she did look like she may have been homeless.

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NomadicNora


Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2014
Post: #11
04-08-2014 10:13 PM

It may not be relevant any more for this lady, but if you do see someone you think might be sleeping rough you can contact Street Link http://www.streetlink.org.uk
It's a national thing, if you get in touch with them and tell them where you've seen the person you're worried about they'll find out which homelessness teams cover the area and send someone to see the person, make sure they're ok and help them access any relevant services.

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Jane_D


Posts: 189
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #12
05-08-2014 09:28 AM

What a useful link, Nomadic Nora. Thanks.

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china girl


Posts: 35
Joined: May 2008
Post: #13
05-08-2014 05:32 PM

I've just had a look at the Street Link website - what a straightforward & helpful resource - thanks Nomadic Nora.

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nottinghillbilly


Posts: 458
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #14
07-08-2014 09:43 PM

Meanwhile she was there again early this evening.

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Jane_D


Posts: 189
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #15
07-08-2014 10:38 PM

Has anyone asked the Street Link people to have a chat with her?

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Snazy


Posts: 1,495
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #16
08-08-2014 02:08 PM

On the way to the post office the other morning I did see a lady of similar description sitting on the 4 steps, happily drinking her can of Stella.

Not sure if this is the same lady.

If it is, then to me she looked like a well organised homeless person or street walker. While that sounds cold and heartless, sometimes its a life choice, and they have somewhere to go when it gets cold / wet.

Either way I hope she is given the opportunity to make that choice soon. Sadly I don't pass that area too often, so cant be sure im even talking about the same person.

PS, my opinion of the lady above comes from years working on the streets over night in the West End, and seeing how some people just DON'T want people to interfere.

PPS, yes Jane... Your reference number for this alert is: WD107961

This post was last modified: 08-08-2014 02:14 PM by Snazy.

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Snazy


Posts: 1,495
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #17
08-08-2014 03:03 PM

More info for reference....

Many thanks for taking the time to contact us about the woman you saw at the underpass on Perry Vale

This is a very exposed location, with a lot of passers by, and you saw the person in the day/evening. As sleeping sites are more likely to be tucked away from busy roads so that there is less chance of the rough sleeper coming to harm while they are asleep, it is very likely that this is where the person spends time begging rather than rough sleeping.

This kind of begging spot is well known to the teams working with rough sleepers and they visit them regularly to offer help and support to anyone they find there who they think might be homeless or rough sleeping. We wouldn't be able to offer you any more specific information on this person's situation, but I can assure you that a team will approach her and try to help her in any way they can. If you do have any information on where the woman you saw spends the night, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us again and let us know as we can also pass this information on to the local rough sleeper team.
Once again, many thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind regards,


Gemma Sparks
StreetLink Referral Line Worker
0300 500 0914

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Jane_D


Posts: 189
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #18
08-08-2014 06:25 PM

Thanks for passing on that info, Snazy. Good to hear that the charity will have a chat with her. I share your feeling that it may be best to leave an adult sitting on the street alone, so long as they look reasonably healthy and not distressed in an way.

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blushingsnail


Posts: 364
Joined: Dec 2005
Post: #19
08-08-2014 10:21 PM

I've seen her a few times, sitting on the steps on the Perry Vale side, and once on the bench further along the road. A couple of times people were talking to her. Three times she had a can of drink. Maybe she's a street drinker, not homeless? She doesn't have a bag with all her possessions in, like you sometimes see rough sleepers have. She might be living locally - somewhere like Miriam Lodge maybe?

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blushingsnail


Posts: 364
Joined: Dec 2005
Post: #20
18-08-2014 12:06 PM

I take back what I said: on Friday night at 9pm she was lying on the bench on Perry Vale, and this morning she was sitting on the same bench with a blanket round her. So I think she is sleeping rough, not 'just' a street drinker.

I've logged it again on the Street Link website, quoting Snazzy's original reference of WD107961, and telling them what times of day I've seen her on the bench. The new reference for my alert is WD108895.

I'll also let the Perry Vale local councillors know about her.

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