Action call over homeless people deaths

Five homeless people have lost their lives on the streets of South Tyneside in the past seven years, new figures show.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 2:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 2:51 pm
Action call over homeless people deaths

Office for National Statistics figures show an estimated five homeless people died in South Tyneside between 2013 and 2019 – mainly those people sleeping rough or using emergency accommodation.

There was one death in the area last year, according to the figures – compared to none in 2018.

Nationally, an estimated 778 homeless people died in 2019 – a seven per cent rise on the previous year, and the fifth yearly increase in a row.

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Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said the figures showed how dangerous homelessness and rough sleeping can be, adding that he pandemic has made the streets “even more dangerous”.

The figures also show 37% of deaths nationally were related to drug poisoning, while suicides among the homeless increased by 30% from an estimated 86 deaths in 2018 to 112 in 2019.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: “Every one of these human beings will have had different lives, different characters and different stories. What unites them is the systematic failure of successive governments.”

Mr Sparkes urged the Government to expand the system used to investigate the deaths of vulnerable adults to include those who die while homeless and for

homeless people to be given “prompt and equitable” access to the coronavirus vaccine.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Every death of someone sleeping rough on our streets is one too many.

“That’s why we are investing over £700m to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness this year alone.”