Viewers raise thousands after seeing plight of disabled man forced to sleep rough

12 November 2019, 02:07 | Updated: 12 November 2019, 05:19

A few days ago a young disabled man called Tom Allan sat on a park bench in the middle of Weston-super-Mare and told me about his life.

At that point in time I think it's fair to say that Mr Allan had nothing in his life but a few belongings.

Mr Allan told me he had been born with spina bifida, a condition which affects the spine and which had rendered him double incontinent from birth.

He told me he could not control when he needed to go to the toilet and for a person living on the streets with no access to regular showers, that was a massive problem.

Because of this condition, the night shelter refused to let him stay with them.

I asked him if I could tell his story and he kindly - and bravely - agreed.

And what a decision that has turned out to be.

Because within three days of that story being broadcast on Sky News, people raised - at the last count - more than £7,500 for Mr Allan. They were so moved - and in many cases so angered - that they dug deep into their pockets.

And they are still donating.

I asked how it could be possible that a disabled man with very obvious care needs could be homeless in modern Britain in 2019. And many of you asked the same thing.

I had no idea that this three-minute TV report would cause such an outpouring. But it has.

It appeared that Mr Allan has just slipped through the net. The services tasked with caring for him had slowly and over time faded away.

Effective care requires both parties to be engaged and even Mr Allan admits his life has, at times, been chaotic.

And no one is pretending that a few thousand pounds is going to make things right for him. It will take time and careful decision-making on his behalf.

Mr Allan, like thousands of people who require specialist care, relies on a system that has seen huge cuts.

There is a crisis in adult social care and councils are having to do the same or even more with less.

They are having to make very difficult decisions about who should get care and who, perhaps, should not. These are excruciating daily decisions about people's lives.

These are matters for politicians to mull over, of course. And where the system is failing, they need to figure out a way to fix it.

Because politics is all about people - it has to be - it cannot be anything less.

It's about finding ways to make sure the most vulnerable are not living on the streets with a backpack full of nappies not knowing where the next meal will come from.

Or even - as Mr Allan says he considers each day - whether he will survive the night.

If we stop seeing the problem we will stop searching for a solution to it.

Well, a lot of people saw Mr Allan and they are trying to help him right now - for the long-term, not just the next few days, weeks or months.

And that's a pretty wonderful thing to witness.