‘Shocking inequalities’ resulting in deaths of homeless people on our streets

Homelessness on the isle

Four people died while homeless in Thanet last year according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Estimates, meaning those who died on the street but may not have been registered as homeless, for the same period show five deaths.

Between 2013 and 2018 there have now been 13 ‘estimated’ deaths of people on our streets.

In 2017 there were no recorded deaths of those living rough in Thanet and the year before there were two, that figure has now doubled for 2018 despite projects such as the Thanet Winter Shelter and the introduction of RISE -Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment –  with three outreach workers and a dedicated worker for mental health and another for drug and alcohol addiction.

National rise of 22%

Nationally there were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales, 129 (22%) more deaths than in 2017 when there were 597 estimated deaths.

This is the largest year-to-year increase in estimated deaths since the recording of statistics began in 2013. The number of identified homeless cases increased by 10%, from 491 to 541 deaths since 2017.

Most of these deaths in 2018 were among men (641 estimated deaths; 88% of the total) and the mean age at death was just 45 years for males and 43 years for females compared to 76 years for men and 81 years for women in the general population.

Two in five deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2018 (294 estimated deaths), and the number of deaths from this cause has increased by 55% since 2017.

Rise in deaths due to drugs

Ben Humberstone, Head of Health Analysis and Life Events, Office for National Statistics, said: “The deaths of 726 homeless people in England and Wales recorded in 2018 represent an increase of over a fifth on the previous year. That’s the largest rise since these figures began in 2013

“A key driver of the change is the number of deaths related to drug poisoning which are up by 55% since 2017 compared to 16% for the population as a whole.

“The ONS estimates are designed to help inform the work of everyone seeking to protect this highly vulnerable section of our community.”

‘National scandal’

A spokesman for Kent homelessness charity Porchlight said: “Nobody should be dying on our streets. It’s a national scandal that must be addressed before more lives are lost.

“We know that the longer people are forced to sleep rough, the worse their problems become. That’s why we’re working with councils and partner organisations 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.

“If you are concerned about someone who is homeless, let Porchlight know by calling 0800 567 76 99.”

‘Inequalities are widening’

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link said: “We have long known the shocking inequalities that people who experience homelessness face. Homelessness and the disadvantages that go alongside this result in premature death, often from health problems that could be prevented or treated earlier.

“What the figures show even more clearly is that these inequalities are widening. Behind each of these numbers is an individual who has been failed by society and the systems set up to support them. This is not acceptable.

“Homeless Link has long been calling for deaths of homeless people to be more thoroughly investigated, so we can learn how to prevent them in the future. We also need to re-look at efforts being made to improve access to health services, which too often exclude people who are homeless. The fact that drug-related deaths is going up is real cause for alarm, as we know from our members that local substance misuse services have been hit by funding cuts in recent years, leaving many individuals without the support and treatment they need.

“We believe that both homelessness, and the poor health experienced associated with it, are often preventable. The data must be a warning to do more to tackle its structural causes and make sure everyone has an affordable, healthy and safe place to call home and the support they need to keep it”

Sleeping rough on the streets in Thanet

YearNumber of persons confirmed as sleeping rough in Thanet (TDC count)

Getting help

If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping you can notify streetlink at www.streetlink.org.uk

ontact the RISE team on 01843 577277 – or 01843 577 000 in an emergency out of hours.

Drop in 

Wednesday 9.30am-12pm Margate Gateway
Tuesday 2pm-4pm GAP Baptist Church, Broadstairs

Email: [email protected]


  1. Well there seems to be plenty of help out there, if anyone wants to use it! Mostly the beggars are here for their summer holidays, and know its more lucrative to beg than work! I saw 4 low skilled jobs in the Window of an Employment Agency a little while ago, including beach cleaning, and there was a man of working age sitting begging 2 yards away, Duuurh!

    After the war there were some 14 million bomb damaged houses in the UK, and 4 million homeless, but I don’t remember seeing anyone begging! There were none throughout the 40’s 50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s, it all started sometime around 2000, why was that! These beggars are not beggars, they are making a good living poncing off mainly soft hearted pensioners! They need to be collected up and given 6 weeks basic army training, without weapons, until they get their self respect back, and are found a job, which are out there!

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