Homeless man from Horsham praises ‘overwhelming support’ after Debenhams row

Russell Allen, 29, with his dog Lexi.  Picture: Loughlan Campbell PPP-161229-150312001
Russell Allen, 29, with his dog Lexi. Picture: Loughlan Campbell PPP-161229-150312001

A homeless man who had his bedding flooded by a shop security guard has said he is ‘overwhelmed’ by the support shown to him.

Russell Allen, who is originally from Horsham, posted a message on Facebook on Tuesday to say a guard at the Debenhams store in Commercial Road, Portsmouth had thrown water over his bedding.

Thousands of people around the country pledged their support to Russell following the post, with just under 13,000 signing a petition for the store to discipline the officer, despite Debenhams claiming it was an ‘unfortunate accident’.

Russell, 29, who has been living homeless in Portsmouth for the past two months, said he was ‘amazed’ by the online response and from members of the public who have since approached him in the street to express their well wishes and offered to give him clothing.

He said: “It’s just been really overwhelming. To have people from all over contacting me to try to help is just amazing.”

Russell alleges the guard flooded his bedding, clothing and dog food for his rottweiler Lexi, telling him to ‘enjoy your water bed’.

He said: “I don’t think this sort of behaviour should be condoned at all. People can’t be treated like that, it’s not right.”

Debenhams said it had publicly apologised to Russell, adding that the incident was an ‘unfortunate accident’.

Russell said he has had messages from people threatening to cause damage to the store but has urged them not to, saying: “Some of their passion is coming out in the wrong way. There’s no need for that.”

Councillor Paul Godier, who chairs Portsmouth City Council’s homelessness taskforce, has been working with Russell to help find him housing.

He said: “We are hoping to get him a home as soon as we can. He is a vulnerable individual at the moment and we need to help get him back on track.”

Vince Barnes, from Eastney, is working with Cllr Godier to find Russell a home in Southsea with the aim to get him and Lexi in by this weekend.

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