As Homelessness in the UK Grows at Alarming Rate, so Does Death Toll
The amount of people “sleeping rough” or homeless on U.K. streets has increased by 169% since 2010. As homelessness in the UK has grown so too has the number of people dying on the streets according to a new report.
According to research carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there were 78 recorded deaths of homeless people last winter, averaging at least two deaths every single week. As the winter ended, unfortunately, the deaths on the streets did not.
The UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism created the long-term project ‘Dying Homeless’ to collect data about how many people are dying on the streets. The project started in October 2017 and as of the time of writing it currently has counted 94 total deaths.
Between 2013 and 2017, 230 people were recorded by the UK government as having died while living on the streets or in temporary accommodation. But we now know that 100 people have died in the last year alone, so homeless deaths are rising.
Why is homelessness in the UK rising?
The first factor to consider is the issue of the unreliability of government data and government’s tendency to underestimate, as local police do not record homeless deaths on a national level.
Secondly, the number of people that are now forced to live on the streets has grown. In the autumn of 2017, an average of 4,751 people were counted as homeless, which is over double the amount that it was in 2010 and 73% higher than it was three years ago.
Research suggests that the reason the homeless population has increased so drastically is due to increasing rent prices, welfare cuts and the lack of social housing.
The problem is how much more at risk someone is if they are living on the streets. The chance of being the victim of a violent act increases by 17, the chances of dying from an infection doubles, and you are nine times more likely to commit suicide. The Bureau results showed that a large proportion of recorded deaths in the last year were caused by overdoses, suicides or accidents.
After hearing the published results from the Bureau’s investigation, a spokesperson on behalf of the British government said: “Every death of someone sleeping rough on our streets is one too many.
“We are taking bold action and have committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it by 2027.
“We are investing £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness and earlier this month the Homeless Reduction Act, the most ambitious legislation in this area in decades, came into force.”
Who is dying on UK streets?
The database that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism created not only records the number of deaths but also records the age and gender of those who pass away. At the time of writing they range from 19 to 68 years old, with fourteen of them being under the age of 35.
Figures that the Guardian received through a freedom of information request to the government showed the average age of death for someone who is homeless to be just 43, nearly half of the average life expectancy in the UK.
Data on homelessness in the UK and the homeless population has only just started to be collected, and all of these figures are rough, chances are the reality is likely to be much worse. However, as homeless deaths are now being recorded, it is hopeful that the situation will be taken more seriously.
Thanks to the UK’s ‘Dying Homeless’ project, we can see who these people dying on UK streets really are. It tells us that one was a quantum physicist, one a bricklayer, another a mathematician, and many were fathers, friends and daughters. This humanizes these people and makes the public see them more like the people they were rather than just another ‘homeless death’ statistic.
The Bureau has requested that any member of the public and anyone who works for and with homeless people help keep the records as accurate as possible and take part in recording any future deaths.
If you have information about someone who has recently died while homeless in the UK you can share the details on the following website – https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2018-04-23/dying-homeless