HUNDREDS of well-wishers have donated thousands of pounds to help a homeless man after he was prevented from sleeping rough in his usual spot in York city centre by a spiked chain.

Local resident Lara Seamer set up an appeal online after she saw how the chains were blocking access to a small alcove between two pillars in Fetter Lane, off Skeldergate, and says she has been ‘absolutely overwhelmed’ by the response.

It emerged tonight that the chain was put up at the back of Queens House by Stapleton Waterhouse, which manages the building, which is owned by a Helmsley Group syndicate. The occupiers of the building include Langleys Solicitors.

The three parties said the man had been taking shelter outside the back entrance to the property for approximately 12 months. “During this time, we have stressed our concern for his safety and wellbeing,” they said.

“We sought direction from York homeless charities, The Salvation Army and the Samaritans who all offered assistance, which was refused by the individual.”

The statement said City of York Council had served a notice on the man for “anti-social behaviour”, following complaints from staff using Queens House and nearby residents.

“The chains placed in the area have been removed and we continue to work with the local authority to support this individual,” it added.

Speaking after £2,535 had been donated in less than 48 hours by 227 people by yesterday afternoon, Lara, 20, said she hoped enough money would be raised to rent accommodation for the man for at least the next year.

She said the man had been a “lovely, kind, polite, clean and respectful young man” who had been taking shelter there for the night for 18 months, keeping himself to himself.

“He doesn’t ask for any money, nor is he ever drunk,” she said. “He smiles at passers by and says hello when you greet him. Some of the local residents, staff and myself have been trying to support him as best as possible to make his life a little more comfortable.”

She said that each morning, he bagged up any rubbish and sanitised the area with a bleach spray bottle, tidied away his bed and folded neatly the cardboard that makes him feel safe and packed it into his backpack before setting off for the day, returning late afternoon.

She said she had seen drunks stumbling up the road and shouting abuse and waving money and hot food in his face, “whilst he sits in silence with no retaliation”.

She said she had been asking people to stand with her and help reinstate his right to his “small concrete area of safety and advertise his plight in the hope that we can make life better for him”.

She said the man had previously tried out hostels and was extremely scared and anxious, and couldn’t bear another night in them.

To donate to the appeal, go to

Martin Farran, the council’s director for health, housing and adult social care, said it would never take enforcement action lightly or, in the case of a rough sleeper, without offering appropriate support.

“Unfortunately, in some circumstances people decline this support but we will continue to offer it,” he said, adding that the authority worked with Carecent, Changing Lives and The Salvation Army to offer immediate practical support to rough sleepers, including emergency winter accommodation.

“Longer-term, we work to support them into more stable lifestyles.” He urged anyone concerned about someone sleeping rough to ring the Salvation Army on 01904 405330.