There was an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales last year according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics).  The biggest ‘year-to-year’ increase (22%) of deaths to be recorded. If this problem is not addressed numbers are likely to be higher by the end of 2019. Bodies have been found in shop doorways, hostels and tents. Some haven’t been discovered for months requiring forensics to be identified.

 What causes people to live in these conditions?

People become homeless for many different reasons. There are social causes such as lack of affordable housing, poverty, life events and unemployment. People become homeless after leaving prison or the army with no home to go to.

Life events such as losing a job, mental and physical health problems and drug abuse can also be the cause. Being homeless can, in turn, worsen these problems.

It’s not too late to help. With winter approaching it is going to be even harder for the homeless to battle their harsh living conditions.

The first way you can help is to give time and not money. Two in five deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2018 (294 estimated death). When someone on the street asks for money some give, some don’t but some take the time to think what it is going to be spent on. It could be spent on one of two things drugs or alcohol. Instead buy that person food they can eat and if only for five minutes start a friendly conversation to make them feel they matter.

Alert others. Street link is a government-funded website which allows people to alert the professionals in England and Wales about rough sleepers in local areas in need of help. In 2018 there were approximately 320,000 reported homeless.

Homeless charity ‘Crisis’ works to help homeless over the Christmas period but stresses that help is needed all year round. Crisis suggests you should volunteer at a shelter, donate a Christmas gift and/or start a fundraiser. Crisis is also holding a series of special carol services in December. These are just some of the ways you can help our street’s rough sleepers.