More than 50 homeless deaths in Sheffield over past seven years
More than 50 homeless people have died in Sheffield over the past seven years, official estimates show.
Homelessness charities said the increasing number dying across England and Wales shows the danger of rough sleeping, even before Covid-19.
Office for National Statistics figures show an estimated 52 homeless people died in Sheffield between 2013 and 2019.
The figures are based on registered deaths plus an estimate of how many people died without being correctly identified as homeless. They mainly include people sleeping rough or using emergency accommodation.
There were eight deaths in the area last year, according to the figures – although this was down from 15 in 2018.
An estimated 778 homeless people died in 2019 across England and Wales – that was seven per cent up from the previous year, and the fifth yearly increase in a row.
Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said the figures showed how dangerous homelessness and rough sleeping can be, even before the coronavirus outbreak.
“No one should die on the streets or in a temporary bed in a hostel,” she said.
“It is awful to think so many people spent their final moments without a safe home in 2019.”
The pandemic has made the streets “even more dangerous”, she added.
The figures also show 37 per cent of the estimated deaths across England and Wales were related to drug poisoning, while suicides among homeless people increased by 30 per cent from 86 estimated deaths in 2018 to 112 in 2019. Nearly 90 per cent of the deaths registered in 2019 were among men.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: “It is devastating that hundreds of people died without the dignity of a stable home. Every one of these human beings will have had different lives, different characters and different stories. It is heart-breaking that what unites them is the systematic failure of successive governments.”
He added it is particularly shocking that suicides among homeless people have increased so sharply, and urged the UK Government to expand the system used to investigate the deaths of vulnerable adults to include those who die while homeless.