Shopowner refuses to move mannequin outside shop after it’s mistaken for ‘dead body’

Shopowner refuses to move mannequin outside shop after it’s mistaken for ‘dead body’
Chris Lee / SWNS

A charity shop owner has refused to remove a mannequin in a sleeping bag outside his shop – despite people complaining to the police that is a dead body.

Staff at the Amaze – a charity launched to help with homelessness – set up the mannequin in a sleeping bag in Richmond Road, Worcestershire, to highlight the plight of rough sleepers in the area.

In a red sleeping bag, next to a drain and gutters, there is also a sign reading: “Down here is a bad place for a poster, it’s an even worse place to live.”

However, some thought the mannequin was a real person, with passers-by offering it coffee and food.

After a visit from the police last week, officers ordered the owner and co-founder of the Amaze shop, Chris Lee, to remove his campaign after locals thought the mannequin was a dead body.

Lee said: "We did this to create awareness around homelessness.

"The mannequin - not a most convincing one at that - is sleeping on the street with the sign next to it.”

He said that police asked him to remove the mannequin as it was “too distressing”, but Lee said he told the officers that “the plight of homelessness is distressing”.

He continued: “The display is there to evoke comment and start a conversation, but the police officer thought that it was too shocking an image and could cause an accident.

"It’s just our way of saying please be aware and help the homeless if you can. We have no intention of moving the mannequin, it is making people aware and making people think.”

"The Mayor of Malvern [Cllr Nick Houghton] opened the project and thought it was a great idea.

"This was only ever to raise awareness; we were never asking for money or donations.

"I contacted the mayor and they told me not to worry about it.

"The majority of responses have been really nice and kind, some people have even thought it was real and brought coffee and food. It is only the police who are unhappy with it.

"The really sad thing is that we often find people huddled in the doorway wanting help. It’s the reality of life, there is a number of people suffering."

A spokesperson from West Mercia Police said: "The officer had spoken with the manager to highlight that the mannequin looked very life-like and could easily have been mistaken for a dead body given its appearance and that this had been the case with us receiving such feedback.

"This was also likely to cause both some distress to the public and unnecessary calls to police so it was requested the display be adapted so as to not cause either of these issues."

The mayor said he is in support of the campaign and will work with Amaze to look at how the campaign can raise awareness without distracting drivers.

It comes after news that on Christmas Day 2018, a rough sleeper named Joby Sparrey was found dead in the doorway of Brays on Worcester Road, Malvern, not far from the display on Amaze’s doorstep.

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