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Paralysed man living in tent is 'waiting to die in freezing temperatures'
A PARALYSED man who is living in a tent by the Oxford Canal says he has given up and is just waiting to die as temperatures plunge below freezing.
Mark Payne, 51, is one of an estimated 250 people who are currently on the streets or in homeless hostels in Oxfordshire.
Earlier this week Mr Payne, who is paralysed from the waist down, became stranded by the Wolvercote lock because his wheelchair got a puncture.
People have been giving him food and offered to take him to a hostel but Mr Payne said: “I can’t move. I’m trapped here.
“I’m just going to stay here and let nature take its course.
“To be honest, I wish I was dead now. If they find my body, they’ll cremate me and I won’t have to wake up anymore.
“I’ll be where my nightmares can’t get me anymore and I won’t be so cold.”
Yesterday Oxford Homeless Pathways said it would be willing to help him, but Mr Payne has declined offers of being taken to a hostel due to what he said were previous bad experiences.
Mr Payne is originally from the Devon and Cornwall region and said his early life was troubled.
He said he lost the use of his legs during an explosion when he was in the military.
Mr Payne said: “I don’t want to go in a hostel because there are alcoholics and drug addicts, and I don’t want to stay there.
“I have stayed in lots before, but I kept getting beaten up. I am easy prey for people like that because I can’t fight back.”
But he said the kindness of people had taken him aback.
He said: “A woman came and gave me a packet of crisps and a cup of tea on Wednesday, another man gave me this tent and someone gave me tobacco.
“When people gave me food the other day, I cried my eyes out. I never knew people could be so kind.”
Temperatures this weekend are expected to drop to -4C.
Lesley Dewhurst, chief executive of Oxford Homeless Pathways, said: “This man does not need to be on the streets in Oxford when it is so cold.
“When temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing for three consecutive nights, we put in emergency procedures to let more people into hostels.
“I know people are often wary of coming to us, but he could even come for the day and then decide if he wants to stay the night.”
She added: “A man as vulnerable as Mr Payne would be given priority before other younger people.
“So I don’t think the story here is about the services letting the man down. I just think it is sad that someone should feel so bad about accepting help.”