Today, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released new statistics on the number of people who died while homeless in England and Wales in 2019.
The figures show that an estimated 778 people died while rough sleeping or living in emergency accommodation such as night shelters. In Coventry and Warwickshire, the figure doubled from 5 in 2018 to 10 in 2019.
We’re so saddened by the news of the increase in deaths in our local area. Every death of a homeless person is one too many. We’re really concerned that this situation has only continued to worsen, despite the tremendous efforts which have been made to help Coventry’s rough sleepers during the COVID-19 crisis.
People can so easily slip through the net, especially during winter months when rough sleepers have to be most resourceful to maintain their health. Social distancing and lockdowns have made it much more difficult to go inside shops and cafes to keep warm.
The number of people who have died while homeless has increased by 52% across England and Wales. This is the highest figure on record since reporting began in 2013. The ONS figures are based on conservative estimates and the true figure may be substantially higher.
Speaking about the situation in England and Wales, Simon Grainge, Chief Executive of Emmaus UK, said: “These shocking figures show that even before the COVID crisis struck, many people experiencing homelessness found themselves with nowhere safe to turn. This winter, the situation of people who are street homelessness is even more perilous, as many emergency shelters are unable to open as they are unable to comply with social distancing requirements.
“With COVID levels still high, the government urgently needs to ensure that sufficient funding is available to provide anyone at risk of rough sleeping with a safe place to stay, regardless of their immigration status.”