Call to tackle rough sleeping crisis as campaigners record death every 19 hours

Calls have been made to tackle the rough sleeping crisis after campaigners claimed one homeless person is dying on average every 19 hours.

The Museum of Homelessness (MoH) suggested the figure after it said its research found at least 235 people “affected by homelessness” had died in the last six months.

The social justice group used Freedom of Information requests, local authorities’ figures, coroners’ records and testimonies from families as well as details from media coverage to gather the date – but believe the true figure could be “significantly higher”.

It has called for official bodies to better record homeless deaths, claiming the data so far registered by councils and health bodies is inconsistent.

MoH co-founder Jessica Turtle told the PA news agency: “We are absolutely sure that there are more deaths than we have so far recorded.

“We will continue to build a picture as we continue with the project. In some cases the data is not being recorded or there is a delay while inquests are resolved.

“The way a person’s status is recorded on death certificates is inconsistent.

“The figures are very concerning.

“What we can see from the research is that cuts to services have definitely had a huge impact. They are having a direct impact on vulnerable people’s lives.

“People aren’t able to access the support they need. We need to see more from the Government.”

She said the group had “positive responses” from some councils including Birmingham, Oxford, and Islington in north London, but “we need to see more across the UK”.

The people who died were aged between 16 and 104, and may have been in emergency or temporary accommodation or sleeping rough, the organisation said.

Working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, MoH has so far recorded the deaths of nearly 1,000 homeless people since 2017.

The Dying Homeless Project uses multiple sources to verify the details of each case.

Fellow co-founder Matt Turtle said: “We regularly hear from people who feel they’re safer on the streets than in hostels and this data shows why.

“People are placed in inadequate, unsafe accommodation, whether badly-run hostels or other forms of private rented accommodation, with fatal consequences.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “It is simply unacceptable that any life should be cut short due to homelessness.

“This Government is committed to ensuring everyone has a safe place to live.

“Councils are responsible for helping people at risk of being homeless so they can get the safety and support they need.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.

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