Bedding, books, food and other items were destroyed when a fire was started in the underpass under Oaklands Way at 1.55am yesterday morning (Tuesday 8). Since the arson, members of the public and readers of the Observer expressed their sadness and many people have donated dog food, books and a four-person tent.
Lauren, who turned 31 last week, said: “It has upset me more that this is people’s walkway. A lot of the stuff was given to us by people, I don’t understand why someone would do that, they knew it was a woman’s stuff that’s the thing. I’ve had my stuff here for five weeks and nothing ever got taken.”
Lauren and Mark also have a dog, 10-year-old Brian, which was given to them after a friend they had been staying with in Lavant died. While a bag of dog food and a dog bowl was not burned in the fire, the food has been ruined by soot and Brian’s dog bed was destroyed.
Lauren added: “People are so generous, they are lovely in Chichester. When it’s raining we stay [in the underpass] and we are here during the day. A lot of people have been really generous, they bring sausage rolls to Brian, they’re his favourite.
“We’re trying to raise money to get a caravan which area about £700. We could keep living in the tent but it is so cold.” Lauren found the pile of ashes yesterday morning, she said: “I was shocked, I burst out crying. It’s just wrong isn’t it, they will have seen there was dog stuff and they still did it.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone, I really appreciate it. It’s nice to know there’s good people. It was a really big shock and I just feel sad that someone’s ruined the underpass for people walking past.” Lauren and Mark said they spent four weeks sleeping rough in Littlehampton and six weeks on the streets in Chichester and have a tent in the city that they sleep in when it isn’t raining.
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