The mum of a young rough sleeper who struggled with his mental health and drugs before dying of sepsis believes more could have been done to help him.
Scott Flisher was a familiar figure at Strood Retail Park, often found sat outside the M&S store with his beloved French bulldog, Buddy.
He passed away at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham on New Year's Day after fighting sepsis and pneumonia, aged 32.
Now mum Claire Flisher is asking why her “numerous” pleas to Medway Council’s Rough Sleeping Initiative Outreach Team to support her eldest son were, she claims, “ignored”.
Claire told KentOnline “They knew where he would be, like everyone else. Why did they not check up on him?
“I reported his suicide attempts to Outreach, but nobody helped him.
“I want answers to my questions.”
The dad-of-five and ADHD sufferer, had twice tried to take his own life in recent years and had started to use heroin.
His world started to fall apart 11 years ago when his premature baby daughter died shortly after birth.
He fell on troubled times, his mental health deteriorated and his children were taken into care.
Scott would go on to fall ill over Christmas with a chest infection and died at Medway Maritime Hospital on New Year’s Day.
A council spokesman said they would not comment on individual cases unless the person in question has given permission to pass on information to family or friends.
The team offers support several times a week, sometimes more than once a day, to people who are sleeping rough.
If people do not wish to accept support, continual efforts are made in the hope they will engage with services.
In the last year, Medway’s Rough Sleeping Initiative has supported more than 40 people, helping them to move into long-term accommodation.
Since Scott’s death tributes have poured in from shoppers who used to stop for a chat and bring him snacks and hot drinks, as well as treats for his beloved dog, Buddy.
Mum-of-four Claire described her son as “no angel” but said he was always polite to others.
Claire made regular trips to visit Scott, spoke to him every day on the phone and on Christmas Day dropped off a lunch and a blanket she had crocheted for extra warmth.
A day earlier he had called her at her Cliffe Woods home complaining that he was coughing up blood and felt unwell.
Claire told him to go to hospital but instead he went to a chemist and was given medication for a chest infection.
By last Friday he was in intensive care with suspected sepsis and his family were told to expect the worst.
On Sunday, Claire visited with her daughter Danielle, 28, who bathed him and tidied his hair as he lay unconscious in bed.
Mother and daughter “laughed and giggled” about happier times when Scott was growing up as a young lad.
His last words to his mum before being placed into an induced coma were “I love you Mum”.
Clare added: “He’s always been a mummy’s boy. But I told him not to be a selfish little idiot.
“It would be me who has to bury him and tell his children their daddy was dead.”
Claire made her normal early morning call to the ward on Monday to check his condition saying she would be in later on.
Ten minutes later she got a call from a nurse telling her to “get there straight away”.
She said: “I rushed out with my husband Jack with no coat – just shorts, trainers and a t-shirt.”
But the couple got there 10 minutes too late and Scott was pronounced dead at 9.05am.
His pet Buddy, which Claire got as a puppy, is being looked after by relatives.
Claire said: “That dog was his lifeline. I gave it to him as a companion.
“He thought more of that dog than he did himself.”
Scott would have been invited to Christmas dinner at the family home, but Claire – who has other dogs – feared the animals would fight.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised but Claire wants mourners to wear tracksuits and trainers as a tribute to Scott.
“That’s what he wore to my wedding,” she said.
Nobody expects a 32-year-old to die
Scott comes from a Traveller background and moved to Medway from Greater Manchester when he was two.
He worked for his father’s scrap metal business across the southeast before going off the rails.
Heartfelt messages came in from well-wishers who have donated to Scott and Buddy over the last two years.
Many said how they gave him money to buy treats for the dog, and hot drinks and snacks for him.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by his family. If you would like to donate, click here.
Claire added: “I don’t want to paint him as an angel, because he wasn’t. He was in and out of prison for car thefts and burglaries.
“He was naughty and didn’t go to school.
“But I remember him as a typical boy. He was always well-intentioned and always polite.
“I taught him to respect others, especially anyone older than him.
“Right until the end we had hope for him even as his body was closing down.
“Nobody expects a 32-year-old to die.”