Figures reveal 23 homeless people died in Portsmouth as charity warns 'people are at serious risk'

MORE than 20 homeless people have died in the city with support groups warning: ‘People are at serious risk.’

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 6:17 pm
Figures have revealed 23 homeless people in Portsmouth have died on the city's streets in the last six years.

Official figures reveal 23 homeless people died between 2013-2018 – and three of those were last year.

They include rough sleepers, and people living in hostels and night shelters.

Charity worker Bev Saunders, from Helping Hands, gives out weekly food parcels to homeless people in Portsmouth.

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Bev Saunders founder of the charitable organisation, Helping Hands, is saddened but not surprised by the figures. Picture: Sarah Standing

Ms Saunders said: ‘I’m saddened by the figures but not surprised.

‘In the last six weeks I know of three homeless people who have tragically died – two were living in hostels.

‘It’s disgusting that people have to live like this in this day and age.’

Official National Statistics show there were 726 homeless deaths in 2018 across the nation – up 51 per cent from 2013.

Sammy Barcroft, third fro left, at one of the Rucksack Project's donation collection days.

Sammy Barcroft, who runs the city-based Rucksack Project giving out food and clothing, said: ‘It’s really concerning if people are dying due to not having a place to live.

‘With winter approaching and temperatures dropping the concern for people living on the streets becomes even greater.

‘People are at serious risk if they don’t have shelter or a place to go. Once they become cold and wet then it’s very difficult to get warm.

‘It’s important we all remember we are only one life changing event away from being potentially homeless.’

Breakfast being distributed to the homeless by Helping Hand. Drew Wilkes ,47, is getting his breakfast from volunteer, Liesl Rose. Picture: Sarah Standing

Drug-related deaths increased to 294 last year across the country, compared to 190 in 2017. 

As reported, Portsmouth had 87 drug-related deaths between 2016 and 2018 – one of the highest rates in Britain.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said: ‘It’s heart-breaking that hundreds of people were forced to spend the last days of their lives without the dignity of a secure home.

‘It's crucial the government urgently expand the safeguarding system used to investigate the deaths of vulnerable adults to include everyone who has died while street homeless.’

The figures involved counted anyone with no fixed abode at the time of their death, including rough sleepers and people living in night shelters or homeless hostels.