Community in Portsmouth rallies round to help homeless man Gordon

Gordon Riggs
Gordon Riggs

Coach driver ‘surprised’ by monthly award

  • Massive response to Channel 4’s ‘How To Get A Council House’
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WELLWISHERS have raised almost £2,000 to help furnish the flat of a former homeless man who appeared on a TV documentary.

People have been touched by the story of Gordon Riggs, who was featured on Channel 4’s How To Get A Council House earlier this week.

The 61-year-old, a former naval engineer, had spent 18 months living rough.

The dad-of-three’s life spiralled downhill after losing his son in 2004.

The programme showed Gordon sleeping in a garage and next to a toilet as he struggled to find somewhere warm.

Not wanting to spend another winter in the cold, Gordon sought help from Portsmouth City Council’s housing team.

Susan Harrigan, left, who started a fundraising page for homeless man Gordon Riggs with her sister Sandra Harrigan and brother Ian Harrigan

Susan Harrigan, left, who started a fundraising page for homeless man Gordon Riggs with her sister Sandra Harrigan and brother Ian Harrigan

But he was told he would be low priority for a council house and be may be better seeking a private rent.

Out of the blue and much to Gordon’s surprise, a one-bedroom council flat in Portsmouth became available and he was able to move in.

But when the show was filmed, the flat was bare of furniture.

Susan Harrigan, 36, a trainee teacher, of Renny Road, Fratton, watched the programme and was so moved she started a fundraising page to pay for furniture.

The page has attracted 92 donations, amassing more than £1,850.

There have also been pledges of sofas, duvet sets, wallpaper, paint and curtains.

Susan, a single mum of four, said: ‘I just think no-one should have to go through that.

‘It was heart wrenching – just watching him sleep in the toilet.

‘It was an eye-opener to realise that Portsmouth does have a homelessness problem.’

She added: ‘It’s really nice to see there’s a community spirit in Portsmouth.’

Susan plans to work with the council to get the donations to Gordon. Gordon was not available to comment, but is said to be ‘chuffed to bits’.