A HOMELESS man who captured the heart of the city after he disappeared from his regular spots on Leith walk has been described as “healthy and happy” after being put up in a new home.
Arthur Williams, 75, who was nicknamed “Rastatramp” by a fan Facebook page because of his long dreadlocks, had been a well-known fixture on Leith Walk for 25 years and is regarded with affection by many around the Capital.
But in May this year he was taken to hospital by the police after they became concerned for his health – with his disappearance leading to concern from the thousands of residents who saw him almost every day.
Now, six months later Arthur, who is originally from the Seychelles, is staying in a half-way house in his beloved Leith.
His nephew, one of many family members Arthur has around the city, said: “He’s been there since he left hospital and he really likes it.
“His health seems to be better too, but that’s really only to be expected when someone goes from living on the streets on and off for 25 years to living indoors.”
This is not the first time during his life in Edinburgh that Arthur has moved off the streets, however, and his nephew – who asked not to be named – admitted he may return there in the future. He said: “He’s lived with various members of the family in the city at different times, but something has always drawn him back to those Leith streets.
“He’s an adult who makes his own decisions.
“He seems to love his new accommodation, he’s really happy, but I have no idea whether this means he won’t return to the streets in future. Arthur is his own man.”
And those who have seen him around recently may have noticed he has a new look – after being shorn of his trademark dreadlocks.
“He doesn’t have his dreadlocks anymore, they have been shaved off. He’s never actually been a Rasta, that’s a name people gave to him.
“A lot of homeless people, black and white, end up with dreadlocks due to their living conditions, it’s not like it’s a personal choice.”
His disappearance from the streets of Leith led to fears he may have passed away, and the level of speculation became so great – with people leaving flowers and tributes in spots around the city where he was commonly seen – that Police Scotland put out a notice explaining that Arthur, who was said to have been very touched by the concerns for his welfare, had been taken to hospital.
The family are now hoping he will be left to properly adjust to his new surroundings, and his nephew added: “We appreciate the fact that people care about him, but obviously the whole situation has been quite stressful for the family and we’d really just like it if things could settle down now.
“The bottom line is that we’re very happy that he seems to have found somewhere he likes and we hope he will stay that way.”