Homeless man's coffin to go through Totnes to highlight concerns

Image caption The funeral cortege will travel up the hill to Follaton Cemetery

The coffin of a man who died in an alley in Totnes is to be taken through the streets to highlight homelessness.

Michael Gething, 42, died while sleeping in an alleyway beside the town's Methodist Church. It is believed he died of hypothermia.

He is the fourth homeless person to die in the town in 2012, undertaker Rupert Callender said.

He added that the carrying of the coffin next week would be a "a simple way" for people to come together.

'Very visible'

Mr Gething came to the town about 18 months ago.

Graham Walker, who used to be homeless in the area, said "a simple thing that could save lives" was needed.

He said: "He died on the street. I think that, as a community, we should be aware of that fact and acknowledge it, and do something about it.

"He would be alive today had there been a shelter in Totnes."

Mr Gething's funeral is due to take place next week.

Mr Callender, who is organising the funeral free of charge, said 6ft 4in (1.93m) man was "very visible" and had "something about him which was very approachable".

He said: "His life and his death were on the streets, his funeral should be on the streets as well.

"The act of carrying his coffin all the way up the hill to Follaton Cemetery is quite a physical commitment, so we're going to need the help of the townspeople.

"This is a simple way for people to come together and show respect and solidarity.

"It would be nice to see a night shelter come out of this."

South Hams District Council has the responsibility for looking after homeless people in Totnes.

The authority said it was very sad about the recent deaths of rough sleepers.

It added it was looking for premises with a view to setting up a night shelter or hostel in the town.

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