A homeless man says he is “overwhelmed” after well-wishers donated more than £1,500 to get him off the streets.
Shane Preston, known as Cornish, has been sleeping rough for two years but is looking forward to having a flat of his own thanks to the generosity of a passer-by.
Laura Butson was so moved by the 40-year-old’s story that she set up a page on Gofundme to get him off the streets.
The campaign was only £100 from its £750 target when Plymouth Live featured Shane’s story on Sunday.
But now well-wishers have sent donations soaring to £1,645 in less than 24 hours.
Laura, a 34-year-old mum-of-two from Tavistock, has already found a landlord with a bedsit ready for Shane.
She will use the money for a deposit and rent in advance and to buy Shane food.
Laura, who wants people to keep donating, said the remainder will go to a homelessness charity.
Shane, born in Plymouth but raised in the Calllington area, will not be handed the cash.
He was still begging in his usual spot near the Money Centre this afternoon.
Shane said: “I think it is amazing, people’s kindness. It is overwhelming what people have done to support me and help me get out of this situation. I just want to say thank you for all those people who have helped.”
Three or four people stopped to give Shane change in the 20 minutes Plymouth Live was with him – and one handed over a Battenburg cake still in its packaging.
Shane said: “I have been on the street for two years but could not see the light at the end of the tunnel until Laura came along. I know some people who have been sleeping rough for five years.”
He added that he had asked the city council for help but added that he was not a priority because he was a single man without any mental health or substance abuse problems.
Shane, who worked as a stonemason, said that he had lost his local connection in the eyes of the authorities because he had been living in Hampshire.
Redundancy and a messy break-up saw his life spiral out of control and he started using heroin and cocaine.
Shane, who spoke to Plymouth Live last year, spent three years in jail from 2012 for arson – having fallen asleep with a candle burning in a hotel.
He has a conviction for theft in 2016 but says that was down to drug abuse.
Shane added that he had been clean for a year, having kicked heroin and cocaine himself.
He said: “I want to get back to work. Sitting down here doing this is soul-destroying but I want to make the best of a bad situation. What can you do?
“I have done my time. All of us have made mistakes in the past, I am trying to be a better person.”
Shane added that he had had three referrals to homeless shelters but “nothing had come of them”.
He said: “I know there is no quick fix but I have waited so long, another few weeks is not going to kill me.”
Make-up artist Laura said she was in tears when she and her mother Joy started talking to Shane in a doorway behind Charles Cross police station three weeks ago.
They gave him some food but found that they could not walk away.
Laura set up the appeal, which as of today, had reached £1,645.
She added: “It is wonderful. We would welcome any more donations. We are trying to help other people on the street so that they have a great 2019”.
Plymouth Live got in touch with Laura after seeing shared Facebook messages about the campaign. It has been shared more than 400 times on social media.
Laura is to meet Shane this week to have a coffee and discuss sorting out the flat.
Among the messages of support on the Gofundme, Kathleen said: “Well done, Laura. I hope by the end you have enough for Cornish to start over and maybe for another homeless person.There are so many slipping through the net.”
Kirsty added: “This man is so lovely, always polite to my children and myself when we passed him and gave him money. He was so thankful, such a genuine person.”