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Homeless man was considering suicide


By Iain Ramage

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Allan Woodward
Allan Woodward

A LONG-term homeless man has revealed that he came close to suicide because of his desperate financial plight.

He blames a vicious spiral of not being able to afford an Inverness property and his intense anxiety for not being able to work.

Merseyside-born Allan Woodward (31) moved to the Highland capital about three years ago to be closer to his young son after a break-up with his partner.

After a brief spell sleeping rough, he has since lived in temporary accommodation including several months under Moray Council’s wing in Forres.

Mr Woodward’s life-threatening drama ended with a court conviction for possessing a knife in a public place.

"The knife wasn’t aimed at anybody else, it was aimed at my throat," he said.

A tragedy was avoided because, in desperation, he called the police himself.

"I contacted them before I actually went onto the roof of the Rose Street car park," he said.

Mr Woodward claimed the council had acknowledged that his 150 ‘points’ – graded under a system of personal circumstances including the period of homelessness – is unprecedented.

But his persistence in trying to find an affordable Inverness home has proved fruitless and he claims being English has not helped his cause. The council has insisted no-one is discriminated against.

"I just want to be housed," he said. "So, okay, living in rented accommodation I’ve got a roof over my head but I suffer from mental health difficulties and it doesn’t help my anxiety.

"I’ve known people who’ve been housed a lot quicker than me.

"I’ve been a homeless neighbour to two men who’ve been housed before me – and they had less points than me.

"The council are very flippant. They continually assure me that I’m top of the list but they’ve been doing so for the last six months."

His plight surfaced almost a year ago after it emerged that 900 homes were standing empty in the city while nearly 1000 people were registered as living in temporary accommodation.

Mr Woodward said at the time that he could not afford to work because his supported temporary accommodation – funded by housing benefit – costs hundreds of pounds per week and private lets are too costly.

A spokeswoman for Highland Council said anyone making contact with concerns about their security of tenure, or potential or actual homelessness will be treated with respect and in confidence. She therefore declined to comment on an individual case.


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