A NATIONAL news feature exploring the deaths of homeless people highlighted just how 'precarious' the lives of rough sleepers in Taunton and beyond are. 

Channel 4 News aired a feature last night (October 8) amid the announcement the Office of National Statistics (ONS) would now be counting the deaths of homeless people - and focussed on problems in the County Town. 

At least 449 people died homeless in the UK in the last year, a nationwide investigation has found.

The research, conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, is believed to be the first attempt to monitor the death toll among the homeless community.

The feature starts with an interview of a friend of Paul William Bradley, 52, known by everyone as Brad, who died in the town's Musgrove Park Hospital at the end of August. 

Andy Davies, home affairs correspondent for Channel 4, also talked with Michelle Cuthbert, a homeless woman who was 'co-dependent' on popular Brad. 

This is The West Country:

A screen grab from the Channel 4 interview with Michelle Cuthbert. PIC: 4oD

She said during the interview: "When we were sleeping outside together, we spent 24 hours a day together. 

"We looked after each other. We were very co-dependent. He looked after me and I looked after him."

This is The West Country:

POPULAR GENTLEMAN: 'Brad' Bradley getting a haircut from an Open Door volunteer

Mr Davies went on to speculate Brad's death was one of 'at least' seven linked to the homeless community in the town. 

He said before the announcement from ONS, no official government count would have tallied up how and when they died across the country.

Other deaths included 'Scotch' Alan, who passed away on the top floor of High Street Car Park in December last year.


READ MORE: County Gazette launches £40,000 to help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping


Then, drama struck the filming crew as they witnessed two separate incidents of people requiring medical assistance after taking what was assumed to be the drug 'spice'. 

Mr Davies said what he witnessed was a 'sharp reminder' of 'just how precarious' life on the streets can be.

Paramedics, responding to the two incidents in Taunton when Channel 4 was filming, allegedly told Mr Davies attending to incidents such as these was a 'regular occurence' in the town. 

The home affairs correspondent said: "It's difficult to know what to make of this. 

"It's really shocking, yet a regular occurence according to one of the paramedics we spoke to."

A spokesman for Taunton Deane Borough Council said: "Unfortunately Taunton Deane Borough Council was not invited to take part in this report on the Channel 4 News programme.

"The council recognises that deaths such as those reported are a national problem and is supportive of any attempts to reduce them and address the causes of them."

In August, your County Gazette launched an appeal to raise £40,000 to help Arc - formerly the Taunton Association for the Homeless - fund outreach workers tackle the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping. 

The 7pm news from October 8 is available to watch on demand by clicking here.