CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Streets Kitchen founder and Big Issue seller remembered at service

Sparky's death a 'big loss' to community

21 November, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

A BIG Issue seller and one of the founders of a celebrated project helping the city’s homeless was remembered at a moving service in tribute to homeless people who died this year.

Mark Anthony Borrett, best known as Sparky, died in May.

His close friend Jane Clendon said that his death had been a “big loss” to the communities of which he was part.

Sparky, 48, was one of the founding members of grassroots Streets Kitchen, formed six years ago serving warm food outside Camden Town tube station.

He helped with its expansion into other parts of London, including Hackney and Islington, and helped host the Christmas Day Dinner for the homeless at Euston station in 2017.

He was also selling the Big Issue in Parkway in Camden Town before his death.

Jane told the New Journal: “The idea of Streets Kitchen was by people who were homeless and people who were motivated to help others through experience and accessing and knowing what services are available.

“He was lovely, very humble and quite quiet in his personality. He was very knowledgeable and supportive.“

Jane recalls a poignant moment in a Finsbury Park cafe when they met a man who was separated from his family and had cancer.

She said: “Sparky gave him his sleeping bag and removed all of his personal details from his smartphone and gave it to him. Without thinking in that moment, he thought that this man’s situation was worse than his own.”

Sparky, who had just completed a degree in health and social care at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, was found by police in Regent’s Park in a sleeping bag.

His funeral was held in Norfolk, where he grew up. He also loved camping in the wild as he loved “the outside and the wilderness,” Jane said.

His memorable nickname name came from his childhood.

Sparky’s name was among 129 others, either homeless, living vulnerably or volunteers with the homeless, who died in London this year read out at a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square last Thursday.

Jon Glackin, also one of the founders of Streets Kitchen, said: “Sparky had periods of homelessness in his life and that definitely did affect his outlook on life.

“It was just his understanding of people’s problems. He wouldn’t shy away from confronting people’s problems which was a very unique skill.”

Streets Kitchen hope to set up a project to help the homeless or those living vulnerably in Sparky’s name.

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