By James Bryce
ON first appearances, he looks much like any other tanned tourist, or expat, enjoying the morning sunshine on the Costa del Sol.
Spending his time completing crossword puzzles and reading books, Patrick Burke doesn’t appear to have a care in the world.
But look closer and you will see two bags of belongings on the bench next to him.
For after losing his job as a chef, the Briton can no longer afford to pay his rent and has been forced to live on the streets in Fuengirola.
Now his former neighbours have voiced their concerns about Burke’s well-being and have appealed to the Olive Press to help reunite him with his family.
“I know he has a son living somewhere nearby, called Richard,” said neighbour Anne Sewell, 59.
“They are not in regular contact and Richard came looking for his dad recently when he couldn’t contact him by phone. He seemed worried.
“That was before Patrick became homeless,” added the South African, who runs a travel website.
“I think he needs to be made aware of his father’s plight.
“Patrick seems to have some psychological problems. If you ask him about his son he doesn’t reply and just talks and talks about how he is looking for work.
On average, 159 people are evicted from their homes each day in Spain
“However, he spends all day every day sitting in the same square, apart from the midday heat.”
The good-Samaritan neighbour added: “He has a key to the outside door of our building, so he sleeps inside at night.
“I also give food and water to his dog whenever I can.
“But we really hope the authorities – or a family member – steps in to help.”
The property agency responsible for the flat rented by Burke confirmed he was no longer living there, claiming he had left voluntarily, unable to pay the rent.
When the Olive Press approached Burke in Fuengirola town hall square, he appeared to be in denial about his plight.
“I’m OK living off my Royal Mail pension and just want to be left alone,” he said.
An average of 159 people are being evicted every day in Spain as they cannot afford to pay their mortgage or rent.
Some 82 per cent of these are living with children and classified as vulnerable.
“People are losing their jobs, and we are seeing more and more homeless people of all nationalities on the streets,” Jeronimo Jimenez from the Red Cross told the Olive Press.
His group has appealled for a homeless hostel in Marbella insisting there is an urgent need for more places for rough sleepers.
When contacted by the Olive Press about Burke’s situation, a spokesman for the British Embassy said: “We would advise anyone that requires assistance of this nature to call the British Consulate on 902 109 356 or visit www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk.”
Are you family? Can you help? Email email@example.com.