MPs urged to act over shocking number of deaths of homeless people on our streets

Thanet rough sleepers

Shockingly data released today (February 25) by the Office for National Statistics shows there have been 7 identified deaths of  people who were sleeping rough in Thanet between 2013 and 2017. Estimates, meaning those who died on the street but may not have been registered as homeless, for the same period show eight deaths.

In Canterbury there were 16 deaths of people registered as sleeping rough for the same period, with the estimate standing at 20.

For Dover three deaths were recorded and the estimated figure was the same. For Folkestone four deaths were recorded in both categories.

There were an estimated 597 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales in 2017, a figure that has increased by 24% over the last five years.

Men made up 84% of deaths and the mean age was 44 years for men and 42 years for women. Over half of all deaths of homeless people in 2017 were due to drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide; drug poisoning alone made up 32% of the total.

The national figures were initially released in December with today’s data providing information at local authority level,

Ben Humberstone, Head of Health and Life Events, Office for National Statistics, said: “Our findings show a pattern of deaths among homeless people that is strikingly different from the general population.

“For example, homeless people tend to die younger and from different causes. The average age of death last year was 44 years, with 84% of all deaths being men. More than half were related to drug poisoning, suicide, or alcohol, causes that made up only 3% of overall deaths last year.”

‘National scandal’

A statement from Porchlight, which carries out services for those who are homeless in Kent, says: “Nobody should be dying on our streets. It’s a national scandal that must be addressed before more lives are lost.

“The longer people are forced to sleep rough, the worse their problems become. That’s why we’re working with our partner organisations and councils to help people off the streets as quickly as possible.

“But we can’t do it alone. It’s time for the government to take urgent action. It must start tackling the root causes of homelessness, put support mechanisms in place to prevent people from ending up on the streets, and provide more social housing for those in need.”

It’s time for MPs to act.”

‘Distressing’

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: “It’s very distressing to hear about the deaths of rough sleepers on the streets of Thanet and it’s vitally important that the most vulnerable people in society, including homeless people and rough sleepers, are helped to get their lives back on track.

“Between 2010 and mid-2018, there were over 1. 6 million cases of homelessness prevention and relief across England. Our new Rough Sleeping Strategy, which has been supported by St Mungo’s and Crisis for example, should provide rapid support to up to 6,000 vulnerable people either new to the streets or at risk of becoming rough sleepers.

“This will complement the Housing First pilots which are supporting the most entrenched rough sleepers off the streets by providing them with stable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support. In addition, the Homelessness Reduction Act, which has been praised by both Shelter and Crisis, requires councils to provide early support to people at risk of homelessness.

“But as these extremely sad deaths show, there is clearly much more we need to do as we seek to eliminate rough sleeping in its entirety by 2027.”

Sleeping rough on the streets in Thanet

Year Number of persons confirmed as sleeping rough in Thanet (TDC count)
2014 15
2015 17
2016 33
2017 46
2018 23

2 Comments

  1. One thing I found speaking to rough sleepers is that every single one had a back story that reflected family breakdown or bereavement or job loss or health issues or drug and alcohol abuse or mental health issues. It is a disgrace that in 2019 anyone is sleeping on our streets. No-one chooses that lifestyle and thatnis a myth that needs rebutting.

    That anyone has nowhere to call home is unacceptable in one of the richest countries in the world.
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  2. With homelessness increasing year-on-year is it now a Government priority to bring it down by changing policies? No, they are quite happy keeping us scrambling around under stress, pressure and in poverty as that takes the spotlight of what they are up to with brexit and pandering to their business chums. There is no government priority to bring poverty down, just the statistics themselves they are manipulating!

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