Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have written a couple of articles in recent months about the plight of homeless people in La Línea who are forced to sleep at nights on the town’s streets. Just over two weeks ago in the Costa del Sol News and Panorama I featured a British resident of San Roque, Mary Finlay, who is organising feeding trips to these unfortunates once a week – I will return to her work later in this article. However I start off with the disclosure that at least two of those sleeping rough are mentally ill.

Their case has been highlighted by the Plataforma Los Parados – the action group speaking for the ten thousand plus jobless in the border town. They have written to the Andalucía Ombudsman over the men’s plight.

They say that because of the economic crisis these people with mental health problems have no roofs over their heads hence they are sleeping outside in the winter cold and rain. One of these is 43-year-old Juan Medina López who has been abandoned since before Christmas and is receiving no psychiatric help or social assistance nor can he or the others be attended to at other municipal centres.

They told the Ombudsman that between Monday and Friday the men are invited for a meal and a shower at the Centro CEA but at night they are left to their own devices. Incredibly unless they are attended to by an Andalucía health service professional they cannot be given a bed in any of the refuges for the “sin techos” – and no such person has been near them.

They action group expressed its anger that these men have been abandoned by the very authorities that make such a pretence of caring for the homeless and mentally ill. The Plataforma says it is only thanks to local residents that they have clothes, blankets, food and hot drinks as they pass the nights living rough on the streets.

Indeed Mary Finlay told me: “I know one of those chaps, never lifts his head or acknowledges our presence, but at least the food goes and he uses the blanket. I will make sure to leave him some good clothing. It is so pathetic, he always takes his shoes off to sleep in the bunker, trying to maintain standards.”

J J Uceda also informed me that it’s hoped that Juan Medina López may be given shelter in a home in San Roque from the end of this month. He added: “The problem with mentally ill patients is that they can be dangerous because of their illnesses and there is no law to oblige them to enter a centre.”

In my article on the project started by Mary Finlay I appealed to any readers who could help to please do so – and people on the Costa del Sol and in Gibraltar generously responded. For your solidarity Mary, her team and the abandoned people of La Línea’s send their heartfelt thanks.

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