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article imageYoung filmmaker dies making documentary on UK homeless

By Anne Sewell     Apr 6, 2013 in World
As part of his application for a position on the Channel 4 investigative journalism programme, Lee Halpin decided to spend a week living rough on the streets of Newcastle, filming what life is like for the homeless. He passed away three days later.
He says in the video above that he wanted to show the TV channel that he could be "fearless", which he says is a key value of the broadcaster.
He wanted to "immerse" himself in the world of homelessness on the streets of Newcastle. "I am about to go and spend a week being homeless, I will sleep rough for a week, scrounge for my food," he said.
He also wanted to "access the services that other people in the west end (of Newcastle) use" and to "interact with as many homeless people as possible and immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can."
According to Halpin, he had spoken to a homeless charity about the rise in the number of people on the streets and the effect of changes to Britain's welfare system this month.
While saying that his plan "has caused a huge amount of trepidation among my friends and family," he also said that he wished to "investigate whether the coalition government's much-criticised bedroom tax would impact on people in Newcastle, and whether it would lead to homelessness."
Tragically, just three days after the start of this project, 27-year-old Halpin was found dead in a boarded-up hostel on Westgate Road, Newcastle.
While the cause of his death is not yet known, it is feared that he may have succumbed to hypothermia in the -4 degree Celsius winter conditions. According to a Met Office spokesman, the lowest recorded tempature in the area early on April 3 was around -4.2 degree Celsius.
However, the Daily Mirror reports that detectives did arrest two men, aged 26 and 30, relating to the supply of a controlled drug, relating to the incident, but both men were reportedly bailed pending further enquiries.
According to a Northumbria Police spokesman: “Officers have arrested two men aged 26 and 30 on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug. They have been bailed pending further enquiries. Police were informed the body of a man believed to be in his 20s had been found in a derelict building in Westgate Road. A report will be prepared for the coroner.”
Halpin's last message on Twitter asked his followers if anyone could assist with items needed for his week out in the cold, including a sleeping bag.
A friend, Daniel Lake, has known Halpin for 10 years and told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle:“No one knows how he passed away, but we think it could have been hypothermia. He made the ultimate sacrifice trying to raise awareness about what was happening to other people.”
“Lee was a great guy, a character and was well known. His big things were creative writing and poetry,” he added.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of this aspiring young journalist. Our thoughts are with his family."
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