Adead man lay undiscovered in a tent by the side of the road for a year. He was found on August 15, 2017 on the A370 near Weston-super-Mare. Beside him was a newspaper, a birth certificate and a driving licence. He is believed to be called Peter Thomas Harrison, born in Birmingham and 59 or 60 when he died.
But there has been no formal identification and nobody has claimed him as next of kin. Peter fell through the cracks so far that even when in plain sight in a tent he was invisible.
This is terribly sad. Here is a man who came to mean nothing. Sometimes people wish to remove themselves from normal society for any number of reasons, but that doesn’t mean there should not be a record or a link or a means of looking out for them. Something is broken when everything disappears so much that a man can lie like that, dignity stripped, for so long.
Last week the government unveiled their plan to involve charities, third sector groups and organisations such as social enterprises in the provision of public services. It’s an updated version of David Cameron’s Big Society plan.
Both schemes are, in their way, clever. They look to amplify the good work that is already being done by good people in local communities in order to reflect positively on government.
While Cameron’s idea came in the early days before austerity really hit – so street parties and well-meaning litter collections were frequently talked about – this one comes at a more parlous point for society.