Sad but brilliant...
Is that a stranded traveler sleeping on the couch in a Heathrow airport terminal? Nay, that’s Michael, one of about a hundred homeless people who call the London airport home. Some of them have suitcases in order to better "blend in" with the real travelers:
Over the past three months, it has been discovered that 111 people are sleeping permanently at Heathrow, and the numbers are growing - 20 homeless are believed to be living at Gatwick and more are expected.
Airports are seen as warm, comfortable havens and safer than sleeping rough. Yet charity workers say the homeless have to play a 24-hour-a-day cat-and-mouse game to avoid detection by police and airport security and being thrown out onto the streets.
Peter Mansfield-Clark, a director of the charity Crawley Open House, based near Gatwick airport, explains: ‘These people take a rucksack with them with a change of clothes. They use the toilet areas to wash or shave and make themselves look tidy.
‘They’ll often be in travel gear, so they appear as if they’re waiting to go off somewhere or have just come back. If you look the part, you’ve a chance of being able to sleep without anyone disturbing you.’
Some of the homeless deliberately put on floral shirts, as though they are about to fly to a holiday in the sun, to help escape suspicion.