A homeless man from the Isle Of Dogs will have somewhere warm to celebrate this Christmas thanks to community-spirited residents.

A campaign to help James Bell, known locally as Jim, has smashed its target and raised more than £1,320 in just a few days. And supporters hope it will inspire others to reach out to those living on the streets.

Maura Gray, who befriended Jim 18 months ago, said he was “absolutely in awe” of the community spirit being shown to him and “so grateful”.

The 49-year-old has been an Islander for 31 years but was made homeless about two years ago after his parents died and he could not pay the rent on their three-bedroom council home.

“It makes me heartbroken to see him there,” said Maura who first noticed him sleeping rough in the park.

“He never takes money off anybody and he doesn’t drink or smoke or do drugs.”

The Justgiving fundraiser was launched by Laina Farmer after residents noticed Jim was missing from his usual spot at the bus stop opposite Island Gardens DLR station.

He suffers from debilitating and recurring cellulitis in his legs, an infection of the deeper layers of the skin, and is currently being treated in Newham Hospital.

Maura visited him on Monday, December 12 and said the money raised will be used to put him up in a hotel over the Christmas period and keep him warm this winter while he recovers. In longer term they she wants to help him fulfil his dream of having his own bedsit

“He has basically given up on the system,” said the 60-year-old grandmother.

“The council said all they could offer him was shared accommodation but he would rather be on the street as he is very private and doesn’t like to be around a lot of people.

“He can’t work and can’t sign on for disability while homeless so it is a vicious circle.

“But whatever happens he will be somewhere warm for Christmas Day and will have a dinner.

“Hopefully our campaign will help raise awareness for other communities that there are homeless people who get lost in the system and maybe they can do something.”

Donate to the campaign here .

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