You Are NeededPosted: December 29, 2013
Most homeless people have a roof over their heads, surviving by sleeping in hostels, on friends sofa’s or through similar arrangements. Last year 113,000 people in the UK approached authorities for help because they were in this situation. This is a massive under-estimate of the true numbers.
Some homeless people, especially the most vulnerable, are forced to sleep rough because no roof is available to them. London has a relatively sophisticated system for tracking homeless people, known as CHAIN. This allows the figures for London to be reported more accurately than elsewhere in the UK, however the problem is replicated in cities across the country.
CHAIN tells us that 6437 people slept rough in London in the last year:
- 4,353 people were new rough sleepers, 1,413 people were seen sleeping rough sleeping for two or more years, and 671 have returned to rough sleeping after a gap of a year or more.
- 88 per cent are male, 70 per cent are white.
- 58 per cent are aged between 26 and 45 years with 11 per cent under 25 and 9 per cent over 55.
- Many have one or more support needs: 41 per cent alcohol; 28 per cent drugs; 44 per cent mental health. The proportion of rough sleepers with no support needs has risen to 31 per cent, compared to 17 per cent in 2010/11.
- 32 per cent have been in prison at some point, 10 per cent in care and 10 per cent in the armed forces.
- Where nationality was recorded, 2,923 people rough sleeping were UK nationals – 47 per cent of the total. 28 per cent were from CEE countries. For more information see ‘Homelessness among different groups’.
This data was taken from the Charity Crisis who in turn mined the CHAIN database.
Add to that the following facts:
- Rough sleepers are 35 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population
- The average life expectancy of a homeless person is 47 (for the general population it is 78, a loss of 31 years)
- Homeless people I have known have included literary critics, academics, businessmen, builders and musicians.
- Homeless people are just that, people without homes. They span the whole of humanity from nice to nasty, intellectual to slow, pacifist to angry. They are people like any other who have often run into bad luck and fallen away from ‘normal’ society.
Please do not walk away from this no matter where you live. People are dying. People you walk past every day. People are dying because our society does not value them and because we don’t value them politicians think they can be ignored with impunity. It’s time we stopped sending that message.