The Stream

Why are so many people dying on UK streets?

Hundreds of deaths recorded in investigation that highlights precarious existence of homeless population.

Hundreds of homeless people in the United Kingdom have died over the last year, according to a wide-ranging investigation that has exposed the apparent scale and severity of the country’s homelessness crisis.

At least 484 homeless people have died in the UK since October 2017, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ). The cases included individuals who died in shop doorways, those who were killed in violent incidents, and those who passed away in hostels or hospitals without family members at their side.

The figure reached by the BIJ was much more than an assessment compiled by the Guardian newspaper earlier this year – and the BIJ says their figure likely underestimates the true number of deaths. To date, no official count of the number of homeless deaths has been kept, but the BIJ-led investigation has prompted the UK Office of National Statistics to start compiling such data.

Homelessness has risen dramatically across the UK in recent years, with the number of people sleeping rough in England and Wales doubling since 2013. Homeless charities say their efforts to alleviate the burdens faced by homeless people have been complicated by welfare cuts, a dearth of social housing, and the overzealous application of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), under which some local authorities issue fines and banning orders against homeless people under the guise of tackling anti-social behaviour.

With Brexit dominating the UK headlines, the national scandal of homelessness in Britain and Northern Ireland rarely makes the headlines. The Stream will look at the sobering reality of those who are destitute in austerity-era Britain. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Maeve McClenaghan, @MaeveMCC
Investigative Journalist, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Kevin Farrell, @Kevstar121
Social Impact Influencer

Poppy Terry, @Shelter
Public Affairs Manager, Shelter

Read more:
The prisoners left homeless after their release – Channel 4 News
Northern Ireland’s first health hub for homeless to open – BBC News

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