Stotfold bricklayer with bipolar disorder sleeps rough outside Central Beds Council offices in protest following mental health discharge

Central Bedfordshire Council's offices at Chicksands, near Shefford.

Central Bedfordshire Council's offices at Chicksands, near Shefford. - Credit: Daniel Wilson

A bricklayer with bipolar disorder who says he was discharged from a mental health unit with nowhere to go is protesting against his treatment by sleeping rough outside Central Beds Council’s offices – saying he won’t move until he receives keys to a council flat.

Lee McDonald – of no fixed address but from Stotfold – has been outside the council offices at Chicksands, near Shefford, since Monday night with only a sleeping bag to protect him from the winter weather.

The 37-year-old dad of one has been offered provision in hostels for the homeless, but a member of his family told the Comet he is scared to stay in supported accommodation after he had keepsakes such as family photos stolen during a previous spell there.

And a spokeswoman for Central Beds Council said that Lee had told housing officers he would not move until he was given the keys to his own council flat.

“This is clearly a dangerous situation for this gentleman, and we’ve been urgently encouraging him to make use of alternative accommodation options,” she said.

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“Specialist outreach workers are trying to engage with him and we very much hope he will take up the option of moving to safe and warm accommodation as soon as possible.

“While he continues his protest, we are encouraging him to make use of our facilities during the day, and we have arranged for the Amicus Trust’s Night Owl service to visit him during the night to continue to offer hot drinks, food and the option of shelter.”

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Lee, who was discharged from Luton & Dunstable Hospital’s mental health unit on Monday, walked to Chicksands cross-country after police stopped him trekking north along the side of the M1.

And the Comet understands that passers-by have been supporting him with food and blankets during his protest.

Lee is originally from Hitchin, and went to the town’s Priory School.

The spokesman for the East London NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees the mental health unit at Luton & Dunstable Hospital, said it could not comment on individual cases as it gives paramount importance to patient care and confidentiality.

He added: “We would emphasise that Trust policy is to ensure all individuals receive help and support through the most appropriate channel – whether that is through our inpatient services or through our community services.”

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