HOMELESS men and women from across the region gathered to pay their respects to a rough sleeper who died in Gosport High Street.
Stephanie Brewer died alone on the street last month, age 21.
A memorial service, organised by charity group Helping Hands Portsmouth, took place at the fountain in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, at 7pm last night.
After the congregation sang a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, flowers were laid and balloons were released into the sky.
Bev Saunders, founder of Helping Hands and a motherly figure for many rough sleepers, said: ‘Stephanie should not have died alone and without shelter. Nobody should be homeless in today’s world.
‘But people do care about you very deeply.
‘I want you to know that your lives matter as much as any other resident of our city. We will always do our very best to support and protect you because you’re good and wonderful people.’
Homeless veteran Chris Ryder said: ‘We might be invisible to passers by but we do see one another.
‘We are a family out here and we need to take care of each other.
‘We will lose some of us this winter. We know that. But we’ll get through it as a family.’
Michelle Brown from Helping Hands says that this is the first time a memorial of its kind has been held in the city.
She said: ‘We see these guys every Sunday and they really wanted to hold a memorial service.
‘Thankfully, to the best of our knowledge nobody has died on the streets of Portsmouth before, so this is the first service of its kind to be held.’