Homeless dying in Britain

Deaths of homeless people have been branded a “national tragedy” after shock figures revealed today that the number has leapt by almost a quarter in the last five years. Almost 600 people sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation died last year in England and Wales, according to an estimate from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This total represents a 24 per cent rise from the 482 who died in 2013, according to the first research of its kind by the ONS.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: “This is nothing short of a national tragedy, especially when we know that homelessness is not inevitable. “In one of the world’s wealthiest countries, no-one should be dying because of homelessness. It’s imperative that governments act now to stop this tragedy once and for all.” Greg Beales, campaign director at housing charity Shelter, branded the homeless deaths figures “a source of national shame.” He said: “There is nothing inevitable about homelessness or about these tragic deaths, which are a consequence of a housing system which fails too many people.”
A Christmas stocking hangs on a metal barrier separating his patch of pavement from the busy road into the town centre. He also uses the barrier to dry his clothes. He brews tea on a camping stove. Mr Cooke said: “I broke up with my wife after 15 years. I had a car wash business. I’d been working very long hours, 14 hours a day. I was tired. My head was not right. We grew apart and split up. “I had to move out. The house is in both our names, but we have two kids and I wasn’t going to stitch them up. I moved out and became homeless.”
He receives no benefits and does not drink or take drugs. “I miss appointments because I get depressed, anxiety or I forget,” he said. Mr Cooke told a local newspaper that he feared he would soon have to leave. One restaurant owner who complained said: “This is the entrance to Huddersfield town centre and what kind of impression does this give to anyone arriving in the town?”
The council has had a meeting to discuss the issue after receiving the complaints about Mr Cooke’s presence, but it has yet to take action. A spokesperson said: “Officers from Housing Solutions and their outreach partners are aware of the person sleeping rough under the railway bridge. “While we do not comment on individual cases, we do engage with those individuals living on the streets to provide advice and assistance.” Publication of the homelessness death figures came a day after MPs were told that a rough-sleeper, 43-year-old Gyula Remes, had been found dying outside Parliament.
He was the second homeless person known to have died near the Palace of Westminster this year, but the ONS statistics show the scale of such deaths nationwide.
Shadow housing minister Melanie Onn said: “These figures are utterly shameful and reflect a complete failure of Conservative policy on housing, which has seen rough-sleeping skyrocket since 2010. “We are one of the richest countries in the world and there is no excuse for people dying on our streets.”
Labour has vowed to provide £100 million to ensure that everyone has shelter when it becomes dangerously cold. The party has also pledged to end rough sleeping within five years of taking power. (IPA)

Thursday, 27 December, 2018