Observer series joins project to record homeless deaths

In February, the Observer series launched a campaign called Hope for the Homeless to raise awareness of homelessness in the area
In February, the Observer series launched a campaign called Hope for the Homeless to raise awareness of homelessness in the area

The Observer series has joined a national project to record the deaths of homeless people and to tell their stories.

In December 2017, three homeless people in Hastings – a 41-year-old woman, a 56-year-old man and a 52-year-old man, all of no fixed address – were pronounced dead in the space of six days.

As a result of these and a number of similar deaths across the UK, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) launched a project called Dying Homeless to track each death of a homeless person as there is no national record of just how many people die while living on the streets in this country.

The Observer series has been asked to join the project by tracking each death of a homeless person in 1066 Country.

Jeremy Swain, chief executive of homelessness charity Thames Reach, welcomed the initiative and said: “To systematically record the number of deaths of rough sleepers in order to gauge the scale of the problem and investigate trends will be of enormous practical value as a means of raising awareness and finding solutions to reduce the appalling cull of people living without a home in entirely unacceptable conditions.

“It is extraordinary and unacceptable that nationally data on rough sleepers is so limited.”

In its initial investigation, the bureau found that 78 people died across the UK during the winter of 2017 – an average of at least two per week.

During that time, there were no reports of homeless deaths in the Rother district, according to a spokesman for Rother District Council.

A spokesman for Hastings Borough Council confirmed the council held no records of homeless deaths but was aware of the three in December 2017.

The Hastings and Rother Coroner’s Office has been approached for comment.

In February, the Observer series launched a campaign called Hope for the Homeless to raise awareness of homelessness in the area – and work to combat the issue.

The Bureau is asking the public and those working for and with homeless people to help to fill in the blanks and help record any future deaths. Anyone with knowledge of someone who has died while homeless can pass on details here.