Concerned friends of a woman, who has been living rough in a run-down part of New York after suddenly leaving her home in Fulham , have launched a campaign to find her and bring her home.
Laverne Thomas, who is believed to have mental health issues, was last known to be sleeping on streets and in parks in the Bronx after a move to America to be with a new boyfriend broke down.
Friends, who admit they are unsure if the 36-year-old is even alive, have now launched a Facebook appeal to help trace her and a crowdfunding page for her return, using the hashtag #BringLaverneHome.
North End Road Market stall holder Rebecca Cutts is one of many friends involved in the search.
She said: “Laverne is a really caring, loving and outgoing person.
“We’ve been told that she’s sleeping rough in a park in the Bronx. We’re worried what could happen to her, if it hasn’t happened to her already.
“She’s been there three winters and its a really scary place. We just want her home.”
Miss Thomas left Fulham suddenly in March 2014 to pursue a relationship she was having online with man she had met on a holiday.
Within a few weeks the relationship had broken down and Miss Thomas sent a message to a friend saying her bank cards were not working and that she had nowhere to live.
But this message was not picked up until October 2014.
Since then, through contact with the estranged boyfriend, his friends, and other contacts they have set up in New York, Miss Thomas’ friends have grown steadily concerned for her.
One friend spoke to her on the phone around November 2014 but was unable to persuade her to return.
Hopes were also raised she would return when her mother flew out at around the same time, but she came back without her daughter, much to the disappointment of friends.
Concerned April Crotty, who get up the crowdfunding page, said: “We have been in contact with the British Embassy and their advice is to go over and persuade her to go into the New York office where they can help with emergency travel documents to return home.”
The friends has also contacted the NYPD, shelters, and homeless and missing people’s charities, and their only limited contact through 2015 and 2016 has been with someone who says he occasionally bumps into Miss Thomas.
But her last sighting was in January this year, leaving friends fearful.
“We’re really concerned, we don’t know even if she’s alive at this stage which is horrible,” said Miss Cutts. “We felt we almost had her home and now we’ve lost her.
“If I could speak to her I’d tell her she’s loved and missed and to come home..
“There’s a better life for her here. We want to find her and persuade her this is where she belongs.”
To visit the Bring Laverne Home Facebook click here .
To see the Go Fund Me page click here .
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