The tragic death of long term Hope service user, Robert Jadecki, has been announced. Robert died in an assault and someone has been charged with his murder.
According to reports, there was also anti-immigrant sentiment against Robert on that day.
Robert had been known to Hope for several years, and all the last five that I have managed Hope. His senseless, tragic death has shocked us all deeply, not least in how it happened, but mostly because everyone who knew Robert felt warmth towards him. He had an endearing, lovable side to him that nearly everyone responded to, coupled with our instinctive desire to support and help him to leave the life he led – a life from which, despite our sustained efforts and those of others, he could not escape.
All the deaths of our service users we feel acutely, but Robert, for me at least, more than any other. He would warmly greet me whenever I saw him, even if out on the street, even though his english was poor and my Polish worse.
His death highlights once again the horrific risks people on the street face and I rejoice that working with other agencies, we have seen nearly all rough sleepers get off the street. Robert himself was housed when he died, but escaping the street is much harder than getting housed. Housing is great but it is only the start of the journey. Robert was still there, in his head, on the street and faced the full risks that streetlife brought.
Hope works tirelessly to get people off the street: then also provide the additional things that keep people off them. It is not enough just to feed people who are there, and it is not enough to provide housing: services HAVE to offer more, to offer hope, and give purpose, to fill time, manage personal demons, and to offer people the ability to stay away. We strive constantly to offer that full range of additional services that enable people to move off and stay off the street. We did not succeed fully with Robert in time.
Robert was amongst a group of people who are the most excluded in our society, the most oppressed and the most abused. Everyday people like Robert experience prejudice, hatred, contempt and ill treatment. Society has to be more caring in helping people like Robert and protect them from the violence and fury they face. I’m sorry Robert, my friend, that we could not do more.
There will be further celebration to come of Robert’s life at Hope and beyond – and the lost lives of others. He and they matter.