When Clive Dalrymple died homeless, he left his paintings. Do they hold clues to his death?

When Clive Dalrymple sold his painting of a vivid blue seascape to Katy Cavanagh, he signed the back of the canvas: “Manchester homeless, 12/12/2016.” Clive had been living on the streets of Chinatown, Manchester, and he could often be found perched in front of an easel painting pictures. Cavanagh lived round the corner, and the seascape caught her eye. “It was so beautiful,” she says. “He came across as quite positive, and was trying to make an honest living rather than just asking for money.”

Clive died on 13 August this year. His death was reported in the Manchester Evening News, but there were only scant details about his life – that he was 52, had just left Manchester Royal Infirmary after an operation, had a room in supported accommodation and was known to outreach charities working in the city centre. No next of kin had been located

Homelessness has consumed Manchester since the coalition government introduced its austerity policy after 2010. Rough sleeping is visible everywhere in the city. You can see it in almost every doorway, bus shelter and subway. It’s at the centre of the city’s politics, leads the front pages of the local papers and everyone from shop workers to volunteers at the cathedral have an opinion about it. Mostly that it’s getting worse. A record number of homeless people died in 2018, the biggest increase in deaths since reporting began. In total, 726 homeless people died in the UK. There were 19 deaths in Manchester, making it the local authority with the third highest number of deaths behind Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne.

Ameera Ramzan, the co-founder of Feeding Manchester’s Forgotten Homeless, has worked with the city’s rough sleepers for more than a decade, and supported Clive for two years before he died. She brought him clothes, fed him and helped him with his artwork by supplying canvases as well as paints and an easel. She came to think of him as a brother. “Clive was one in a million,” she says. “We looked forward to going out every night and feeding Clive. His manners were beautiful. He would let no one disrespect you.”

  • Front and back views of a painting by Clive Dalrymple purchased by Katy Cavanagh. Photograph: @KatyCavaz

Clive told people he could not “do four walls”, and spent much of his life on the streets. Ramzan believes his paintings provided an escape. “It was like a fantasy world in his head. He loved to jump into the picture – that was his paradise.” His paintings attracted many admirers, including art students who would seek him out for painting lessons at his spot in Chinatown. “They would sit and drink with Clive, and learn from him,” Ramzan says.

After Clive’s death, Ramzan read that none of his family could be reached, and was concerned that he would be given a “pauper’s burial” by the council. “I thought: ‘No, no, no, his story is not going to end like this,’” she says. She tracked down his relatives on social media. After helping to arrange his funeral, she drove to Liverpool with Clive’s coffin to meet his brother Ray and the rest of his family, who had come from all over the UK and from as far as Memphis in the US.

What is ‘The empty doorway’ – the Guardian series on people who died homeless?

726 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018, according to the latest ONS figures. Over the next few months, G2 and Guardian Cities will look behind this statistic to tell the stories of some of those who have died on Britain’s streets. We will tell not just the story of their death, but the story of their life – what they were like as kids, what their dreams were, their hobbies, what people loved about them, what was infuriating. We will also examine what went wrong with their lives, how it impacted on their loved ones, and if anything could have been done differently to prevent their deaths. 

As the series develops, we will invite politicians, charities and homelessness organisations to respond to the issues raised. We will also ask readers to offer their own stories and reflections on homelessness. We want the stories we tell to become the fulcrum of a debate about homelessness; to make a difference to a scourge that shames us all. 

It is time to stop just passing by.

In a pub next to Lime Street station in central Liverpool, Ray Dalrymple arrives dressed in a homemade cycling T-shirt and flat cap. He is a fit man who cycles 28 miles every day, and speaks softly in a broad Liverpudlian accent. Ray is black; Clive was mixed race. They have different mothers, but shared the same Trinidadian father with 12 other siblings. “We all look out for each other,” Ray says.

Ray and Clive were born in Liverpool, but they didn’t meet until they were adults. Clive grew up in Glasgow with his mother and stepfather, while Ray was raised in the Toxteth area of Liverpool by his mother. Ray saw Clive on TV before he met him in person. “I was at my dad’s one time, and he turned round and went: ‘Look, there’s Clive on the news running around naked,’” Ray recalls.

Clive had run away from home aged 13 to join a group of new age travellers who were involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Ray thinks the news report was broadcast from Greenham Common, where the women’s peace camp was protesting against nuclear weapons being stored at the RAF base. He later learned that Clive had stripped naked in the hope of luring TV cameras to where soldiers were changing into police uniforms. He didn’t succeed.

Ray first met Clive in the mid-1980s, during a trip to Glasgow to see his half-sister Aloma Owens. “I went to this bar and I’m watching this fella dancing, and I was like: ‘God, he doesn’t half dance like me,’ and then he walked away, and I was like: ‘Fucking hell, he’s got my walk as well.’” Ray was at the bar when he felt a hand on his shoulder. “‘Is your name Ray?’” the stranger asked. “I said: ‘Yeah,’ and he went: ‘I’m your brother Clive.’”

Ray was 25 at the time; Clive was 19 and was visiting his mother and stepfather. Ray says Clive appeared healthy, his accent was a Bristol-Glasgow hybrid, and he was friendly, but reserved. They made small talk, mostly about the madness of meeting up after all this time. They didn’t see each other again until Ray received a call from his father a few years later informing him that Clive was being prosecuted in London for “stealing water”.

Ray, who was working as a security guard in London at the time, turned up at court just as his brother was addressing the judge. “Apparently he broke into a derelict house, and the police came in while he was having a bath,” Ray says. Clive was using more than one surname at the time, which confused things at the court.

Ray creases up as he recalls his brother explaining to the judge that he had many aliases because he was a street dancer. If there was one thing Clive Dalrymple could not make a living from, he thought, it was dancing. The judge asked the court if Clive could be bailed anywhere. “He doesn’t know I’m here, your honour. I’m his brother,” Ray announced. Clive looked up at the public gallery, saw Ray, and clasped his hands together in gratitude.

Ray apologises, and says he’s not good with dates, but he thinks this was 1989. He arranged for Clive to stay at their father’s house in Liverpool, but Clive was kicked out after the two clashed. His life spiralled downwards from there. By the mid-1990s, he was in prison for what Ray believes was a drug-related crime. When Clive got out of jail, he was released back to his father’s house. Ray shows us a picture of Clive from this period. He looks beefy after pumping iron throughout his prison sentence.

The brothers would go on nights out in Liverpool, and Clive turned out to be popular with women. “He could talk the birds out of the trees,” Ray says. “When he cleaned up, everyone was coming up to me going: ‘Isn’t your brother dead charming?’ His chat-up lines were terrible, but he just had the gift of the gab.” Such as? “How’s your bum for cracking nuts?” Ray laughs.

  • Ray Dalrymple, Clive’s half-brother. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

There was still much that was mysterious about his brother’s life. But he did know that Clive had two children. Ray says Clive didn’t have much contact with either of them, but both are now happy adults.

Ray didn’t see Clive for prolonged periods while the two were in Liverpool. On one of the last occasions, they bumped into each other by chance outside a nightclub. Ray’s attention was drawn to the pavement when an irritable club bouncer barked: “Move away you dirty smackhead!” to an emaciated man on the ground. “I looked down and went: ‘Clive!’ The last time I had seen him he was really muscular because any time he went to prison he wouldn’t use [drugs], he’d just work out. But he looked like death. He was trying to hide his face – he’d lost his teeth. I asked him: ‘Clive, what’s going on?’ He said: ‘Ray, I feel ashamed.’”

A couple of Clive’s homeless friends travelled with Ameera Ramzan from Manchester to Liverpool for his funeral. They told Ray about his brother’s kindness – the time he opened up his tent to other rough sleepers in Manchester city centre during a heavy downpour. But they also told him how tough it has become for struggling people to survive in Manchester. The Labour party has linked the high level of homeless deaths to local government spending cuts, which in Manchester have amounted to a reduction of £926 for each household – three times the national average. The government’s 2018 single-night rough sleeping snapshot recorded a 31% rise in the number of rough sleepers in the city compared with 2017. In 2010, there were seven rough sleepers counted; in 2018, 123 were counted.

It seems that everyone involved with homelessness in the city knows somebody who has died on the streets. Under Manchester Arndale’s food court, a group of rough sleepers and beggars are sipping lager and cider, and smoking roll-ups while chatting loudly among themselves. Each person in the group points in a different direction to a doorway where someone has died. The loss of loved ones has led to the founding of a number of homeless charities and grassroots initiatives in Manchester. Coffee4Craig, a local outreach charity, began handing out coffee in the city after Risha Lancaster lost her brother to a heroin overdose in a Cardiff car park. Now the charity operates a drop-in centre offering showers, hot meals and access to computers.

Hendrix Lancaster, Risha’s husband, and a co-founder of the charity, tells us he came into contact with Clive on several occasions. “I did see his artwork when I was walking up Portland Street,” he says. “He was a fantastic artist.” He thinks Clive was offered accommodation on three occasions, but understands that he turned them all down. Clive had been living on the street for almost all his life, and Lancaster believes he was one of those people who couldn’t see a way back. “They become so caught up in that lifestyle that they become phobic about going back into the world of responsibilities, bills and four walls.”

Another local homelessness charity, the Wellspring, has lost so many of its service users that it has created a memorial at the entrance to its drop-in centre in Stockport. Its chief executive, Jonathan Billings, gives us a potted history of many of the 40 or so people commemorated on the wall. There’s Richard the guitar player who died of hypothermia a couple of years ago in a bush outside his hostel. Daniel, another young face on the wall, died when he was 22. He was a talented footballer who won a place at Manchester City’s academy, but struggled with alcoholism.

Billings is 1.95 metres (6ft 5in) tall and an ex-Grenadier guardsman. He has been working for the charity, which initially operated out of a nearby scout hut, for 17 years. “For a year, it was a war zone,” he says. Billings thinks his size earned him the job before he even sat down at his interview. Back then, stolen goods were being sold, drugs were being dealt and assaults occurred every day. “I phoned the police three or four times a day for about a year.” The charity has changed a lot since then. The Wellspring claims to have helped more than 1,500 homeless people into accommodation, and offers a range of activities and educational classes to members of the local community.

The Wellspring is part of the mayor’s Homeless Action Network, an umbrella scheme uniting local services, charities and others working with the homeless in Greater Manchester. Just as everyone in this city has a view about homelessness, everyone has a view about Greater Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham. In January 2017, the former Labour health secretary vowed “to eradicate rough sleeping by 2020” if he won the mayoral election. It was a big promise. Sure enough, in May 2017 he won with 63% of the vote and immediately pledged 15% of his £110,000 salary to the Greater Manchester Mayor’s charity, set up to tackle social issues, with homelessness as a priority. “Rising homelessness is the issue that has defined this campaign,” he said. “The fact it is barely getting a mention in the [2017] general election campaign tells you something about our dysfunctional political and media culture. But walk out of this building tonight and you will see the reality behind the election slogans.”

  • Jonathan Billings, chief executive officer at the Wellspring which provides support for homeless people living in Stockport. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Burnham even managed to make fighting homelessness sexy, teaming up with the then Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, to launch Tackle4MCR, a charity set up by the pair to combat rough sleeping across Greater Manchester. Burnham was present at Kompany’s testimonial match in September when all the profits went to Tackle4MCR, and announced that Kompany had already raised £300,000 for the mayor’s A Bed Every Night scheme, which aims to guarantee all rough sleepers a bed every night, with additional support to get into secure housing.

Billings is generally supportive of Burnham and A Bed Every Night, but he has his quibbles. “It’s not going to end rough sleeping permanently,” he says. “It’s very difficult to refer people, for one thing. And in Stockport it’s quite misleading because it’s a sleeping bag on the floor in a shared area. That’s not a bed every night, is it?” He welcomes the number of people helped by A Bed Every Night, but says it isn’t suitable for the sharpest end of homelessness – entrenched rough sleepers with multiple issues, people such as Clive Dalrymple. “It’s horrible to have to say it, but A Bed Every Night works for the easy ones – the kids who have had a row with their mum and it’s just ‘Get on the phone to Mum, get them together in a room and let’s sort this out.’ That kind of thing. We deal with people with complex needs, including drugs and alcohol. A Bed Every Night hasn’t got any of them sorted out.”

Billings also worries that the city is resorting to punitive policies as Burnham’s deadline for clearing Manchester of rough sleepers gets ever nearer. In February, Manchester city council announced a plan to introduce a “public space protection order” to ban antisocial behaviour, including “aggressive and intimidating begging”, drinking in public, discarding syringes, urinating or defecating in public, and blocking building entrances and exits. The human rights group Liberty described the policy as “cruel and perverse”. Billings suggests the policy has unfairly targeted the homeless and achieved nothing except to shift the burden to communities outside the city centre.

We tell him we’re going to see Burnham the following day, and ask if he’s got any message to pass on. Yes, he says – all of this. “And one more thing, he promised to bring Vincent Kompany to the Wellspring. Well, we’re still waiting.”

While Jonathan Billings runs a regular homelessness charity, one man in Manchester has resorted to vigilante-style activism. On a sweltering June day on Deansgate in central Manchester, Stuart Potts is in shorts and shirtless, with an electronic tag attached to his ankle. Potts runs the Saving People Shelter Project, which is essentially a mobile hostel occupying abandoned buildings to house homeless people. Potts is a one-off: tough, funny, intense and off the wall. Combine Shaun Ryder with Mother Teresa and you might come close. Like many working with homeless people in the city, Potts knew Clive, but not well. He says he was quiet and kept himself to himself. “I saw his work,” he says. “Brilliant artist.”

Potts has had his own struggles with mental health and addiction. He became homeless after being evicted from his flat, and was inspired to take the law into his own hands after losing a homeless friend he had helped get off the streets. “I took a lad in from Rochdale,” Potts says. He explains that Rochdale council had evicted his friend from a three-bedroom house after his mother died. Potts took him off the streets, weaned him off heroin with beer, then weaned him off beer and got him back on his feet. Potts says they were turfed out by their landlord after a neighbour told him he had taken in a lodger, and the young man from Rochdale died of a drugs overdose a couple weeks after returning to the streets.

Potts went to live by the canal. “I was sitting on the canal, homeless. Police came down and gave me a 48-hour dispersal notice not to camp anywhere within the Salford area within the next 48 hours. I asked: ‘Where can I go? I’ve got no roof over my head?’ They said: ‘Go to Manchester.’ I said: ‘I don’t want to go to Manchester. I slept with my phone down my bollocks in Manchester and another homeless guy tried to take it off me while I was asleep.’”

Instead, Potts began to research squatting. As a former locksmith, he knew a bit about getting into locked buildings. After occupying a decaying mansion in Eccles, an area of Salford, he has moved into – and out of – several abandoned buildings in the area, including a former vet’s and a disused chemist’s shop. At any given time, he has about 14 adults with him in these makeshift hostels. Potts has to stay one step ahead of the police, who have evicted him on several occasions. Although, oddly, the police are now referring people to his squats.

“We got a phone call from the police the other day,” he says. “‘Hi, is that Mr Potts?’ I say: ‘Yeah.’ ‘We’ve got a young vulnerable lady here. She has just come out of Meadowbrook mental health unit, and she’s got nowhere to go. I was just wondering if there was any room at your shelters?’ I say: ‘Are you mad? You are the ones who are kicking us out, mate.’” He cackles at the craziness of it.

Potts points out another oddity: the first time they were evicted by the police, Burnham was announcing his A Bed Every Night policy. Potts prides himself on telling it as it is to everybody, and Burnham is no exception. When he met Burnham earlier this year, Potts claims he told the mayor that within 48 hours he had housed 18 people in a functioning safe space. “We had on-site support, we had food in the cupboards, it was staffed. We’ve got no money. ‘You’ve got all the money in the world and all the resources in the world and you can’t even do it,’” Potts claims he told Burnham. “He said: ‘I’ve got red tape, you haven’t.’ I’ve got red tape! Well fuck that shit. Solve the problem!”

It is early September, and Potts has been evicted from two squats since we last met. He is now occupying the Unicorn hotel, a pub that recently closed in Eccles. The bar area has been transformed into an ad-hoc storage facility for donated clothes and other items. The living quarters are upstairs, and we’re greeted in the lounge by residents, as well as by Tara the dog, a big, soppy white staffy-akita cross. The atmosphere is relaxed, with people watching Sky TV on a big screen and chatting. Potts says the residents share responsibilities – cooking, cleaning, DIY. He says it has not always been so harmonious. When one resident attacked him a few months ago, he hit him on the head with a frying pan in self-defence.

Paul Doyle from Bolton, who is living in the Unicorn, has been homeless for several years, and says he has never been happier in that time. He has first-hand experience of A Bed Every Night and its emergency Narrowgate shelter project. “You don’t get proper food,” says Doyle. “Now and again Greggs donated. But sometimes we’d just have a bowl of soup at night.” Potts says he “wouldn’t put a rat” in Narrowgate, and likens it to a “refugee camp” in which “30 to 35 people are bunked up”.

The mayor of Greater Manchester’s office in Manchester city centre, is smart, minimalist and corporate. It could not be more different from the Unicorn hotel. Andy Burnham stands up and points to a painting above his desk of a rough sleeper wrapped in a sleeping bag. The artwork also features on A Bed Every Night’s website and literature.

It was painted by another homeless man, but Burnham is aware of Clive. “Clive was well known locally – his paintings were loved, and people tried their best to help him,” he says. “It’s such a tragedy that this talented artist was living out the last years of his life on the streets of Manchester.” Burnham says eradicating street homelessness remains his “No 1 priority” and that he is staking his political legacy on it.

  • Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for The Guardian.

We put some of the criticisms about A Bed Every Night to him. “I think the quality of accommodation is quite variable [and] more single-room provision would be good,” he concedes. “There are some people who really like the sort of company or camaraderie of being in a big space. Others would rather turn the key, wouldn’t they?” He admits that there needs to be at least the option of single-room provision for women. Are women separated from men? “Yes … I think nearly in all of our locations. I wouldn’t like to say in all.”

Burnham cites Greater Manchester’s first decline in rough sleeping numbers for eight years – 229 rough sleepers were recorded in the 2018 snapshot, compared with 278 the previous year – as a measure of his success. He credits the falling figures to A Bed Every Night: “That was the thing that was most responsible for that change. Because London carried on seeing an increase; Birmingham carried on seeing an increase. Now I won’t overclaim for it, but I think that was a significant thing.”

The statistics, however, tell a more complex story than Burnham suggests. Rough sleeping figures in Greater Manchester have declined, but the figures in central Manchester have increased by 31%, which suggests that the problem is merely migrating to the centre. Moreover, A Bed Every Night was launched in November 2018, and the decline Burnham refers to was measured on a single night snapshot during autumn 2018.

We tell him activists have complained about the begging ban in the city centre, saying it is penalising genuinely homeless people. “There’s not a ban on begging,” Burnham says with a hint of frustration in his voice. “It’s a more considered approach, and actually what we’ve agreed with Greater Manchester police is that it’s a supportive approach. We will not penalise people in Greater Manchester for want of a home. We will just not do that. A lot of people claim that this is done, and there may be individual officers who have done things that do equate to that, but it’s not the policy of the force.”

Does he regret saying he would end rough sleeping by 2020? “I wasn’t making what you would call a traditional target,” Burnham says. “I issued my commitment to make it more of a wake-up call to the system. And I think it has had that effect.” But the bottom line is that it was a pledge, and many people, including the Wellspring’s Jonathan Billings, argue it was an unrealistic one.

  • Aloma Owens, sister of Clive Dalrymple, photographed in Memphis, Tennessee, where she now lives. Photographer: Phillip Parker/Getty Images

Burnham says he knows he could have worded it differently to give himself wriggle room, but he wasn’t interested in doing so. “The team here said I should have said: ‘End the need for rough sleeping,’ because you can’t force people into a shelter if they don’t want to because they have a concern about it. In retrospect, if I had said ‘end the need for’, that probably would have been a wiser thing to have done. But I wasn’t in the space of wanting to play semantics with it. Honestly, I don’t regret it. I feel in spirit I’m meeting it by creating 400 places every single night from October until the middle of June.”

It’s unlikely that Clive, with his claustrophobia and complex needs, would have accepted a sleeping bag in a room crammed with 30-plus people. He had a place at Newbury House in Manchester – supported accommodation set up to cope with homeless people with addiction issues and mental health problems – but his aversion to being inside was so profound that he discharged himself from hospital the day after undergoing heart surgery and returned to the streets. He died five weeks later.

Ray struggles with Clive’s choices: “I don’t know how anyone could opt to live on the streets, I really don’t,” he says. “That’s something I’ll never understand.” Ray wonders if his brother’s problems stemmed from his childhood, and says he often wonders what Clive was running from when he left home at 13.

Aloma Owens is Clive’s sister. She is a year older and grew up with him in the same household in Glasgow. Owens juggles two jobs: one as a material handler for Federal Express at Memphis international airport; the other as a table games dealer at the MGM Goldstrike casino on the Mississippi river. She has just finished a shift at the airport when she speaks to us on the phone. Owens says people thought she and Clive were twins because they looked so alike. “I was always with him. It was me and him together pretty much when we were young,” Owens says. She says the family weren’t poor growing up, but weren’t rich either. “We had a nice house, food on the table, a garden. We never had any problems.”

She remembers how adventurous he was as a child. “He would climb the rooftops, jump on the backs of garbage trucks, getting a little ride. I was a little tomboy. Anything my brothers did, I was like: ‘I’m coming, too.’” Owens was just as surprised as Ray when she discovered Clive’s paintings, as he wasn’t at all arty when they were young. But she disagrees strongly with Ray about one thing – the dancing. “We were in a break-dancing group, and we used to dance in the streets – street busking – in Scotland.” Ray says he was a stiff dancer? “He was an excellent dancer,” she insists. “We were in a group called Street Damage and got a lot of gigs out of that, so he was real good.”

Owens says Clive’s charm got him out of sticky situations in his childhood. One night, when he and Owens were 10 and 11, they were out with two friends and decided to pick some apples from a tree in a private garden. “A man started shouting: ‘Get out of here!’ So, everybody started running, but poor Clive was so slow. He got caught. The man took him in the house and the other two guys took off and I’m waiting on my brother. Do you know, Clive came out with some food, some money and some apples. A big bag of apples! So, I said: ‘What did you tell him?’ He said: ‘I told him the boys were threatening us and making us come and pick the apples.’ So he knew how to talk to people and get himself out of things the right way.”

Although Owens describes a happy childhood, the pair had to endure racist abuse. “We used to get called ‘nignogs’, and the ‘twin Twix pack’, and ‘there’s the two Guinnesses coming’. Crazy stuff,” she says. Owens took the abuse in her stride, but she says Clive took it to heart. After Clive died, Owen was shown a letter that one of her siblings had received from Clive. Owens gets emotional when reading it out loud, as Clive talks about missing their mum, who followed her to the US in 1991.

Clive ran away from home with his older brother Vernon when he was 13. Owens never fully discovered what happened to Clive during that period. When she asks Vernon about it, she says, he just cries. Ray is equally in the dark, but learned from Clive, during a rare moment of openness, that he sought out their father at around this time. According to Ray, he was a selfish, violent man with a callous attitude towards his many children. “Who’s for me, I’m for them,” was his motto, Ray says.

“Clive told me he ran away from home in Glasgow to Liverpool,” Ray recalls. “So Clive sat outside our dad’s house because he wasn’t home, and my dad came back from wherever he was and asked: ‘What are you doing here?’ He fed him, put him in his car and took him to the motorway and said: ‘Thumb a lift back to Scotland.’” Ray sobs quietly, and apologises. “It tears me up thinking that a parent can do something like that to a kid.”

Ameera Ramzan says that, after discharging himself from hospital, Clive returned to the streets to make a living. According to Ramzan, he had two bleeds on the brain and had heart surgery twice in the space of a year before he died. “Nobody should be left on the street like that,” she says. When we ask Manchester University NHS foundation trust, which runs Manchester Royal Infirmary, if Clive had a mental health assessment and whether he was in a fit state to leave hospital, the trust says it is unable to comment on individual cases.

Five weeks after leaving hospital, Clive died from pulmonary heart failure. Ramzan is still haunted by his death. “I was coming out of the hospital and I’ve got a clear bag with his name on it with just a few belongings. And I’m hugging this bag with his clothes in it, thinking: ‘What is this?’ This is all this man’s got for 52 years in this world – one bag.”

Aloma Owens is also trying to come to terms with his death. She is grieving for a brother who couldn’t have been closer as a child, but was a stranger as an adult. After he left home at 13, she only saw him on a handful of occasions before she went to live in the US at the age of 21. How does she remember him? “Break-dancing, happy thoughts, y’know.” Her voice quivers. “I get really emotional. I look at the pictures of his childhood and this is how I remember Clive. This is how I remember his face. I don’t know the other part of him. I don’t know the adult pictures that my brother sends me. I know that’s Clive, but I don’t know that Clive.”

On 9 October, the homeless squatters were evicted from the Unicorn hotel. Stuart Potts livestreamed the eviction, and then occupied the Albert Edward pub in Eccles. For all his good deeds, Potts has a knack for getting himself in trouble, and was arrested after letting off fireworks during the two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday. He told Manchester magistrates court they were a tribute intended to mirror the cannons fired during the televised service in London. The judge didn’t accept his argument, and Potts is serving a 16-week prison sentence.

At the end of October, Manchester city council announced it had dropped plans to fine people £100 for “aggressive or intimidating begging”. Burnham is rapidly running out of time to meet his impossible deadline, but he says that he feels he has kept his promise in spirit: a year on from its launch, more than 2,600 people have accessed temporary accommodation through A Bed Every Night and 817 rough sleepers across Greater Manchester have moved off the streets into longer-term accommodation.

“If people think I haven’t done enough, it’s up to them,” Burnham says. “And if they want to vote me out on that basis, they should do that. I’m perfectly happy for people to say at the election: ‘Well, sorry, you said …’ But, no, I don’t consider it a failure to have looked after so many people through A Bed Every Night.”

Meanwhile, Ray is still struggling to come to terms with Clive’s death. Ray tries to tell himself that his brother was his own man, a loner who couldn’t be helped. But he doesn’t quite believe it. “I feel as if I have failed him. I do feel I should have gone to Manchester looking for him, to try to bring him home. But I can’t put that right.” One comfort is discovering after his death that Clive was such a talented artist. The painting that Katy Cavanagh bought from Clive tells the story of his life so well, he says – storm clouds and choppy waters on the high seas. But there is one feature Ray missed on first viewing: a tiny ship among the giant waves. “I reckon that’s him,” Ray says. “A little ship in the storm.”

Additional reporting by Eric Allison

If you are worried about becoming homeless, contact the housing department of your local authority to fill in a homeless application. You can use the gov.uk website to find your local council

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