Bristol has fourth highest rate of deaths among homeless after 20 people died on streets last year

‘Each of these deaths represents a person, someone’s son, daughter, sister or brother - and every one is a tragedy.’

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Bristol has the fourth highest death rate of homeless people in the country, new figures have revealed.

Office for National Statistics data revealed that 20 people died sleeping rough in the city last year, with the number of homeless deaths lower than the amount recorded in 2019 (23) but higher than in 2018 (17).

It means that Bristol had the fourth highest number of homeless deaths across across England and Wales behind Liverpool, Birmingham and Westminster.

The statistics cover the period between January 1 2020 to December 31 2020, when the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative saw all local authorities instructed to move anyone who was sleeping rough into Covid-secure accommodation to shield them from the virus.

A total of 688 deaths of homeless people were registered last year in England and Wales, including 13 deaths involving Covid, according to the statistics.

But they also show an 11. per cent fall in the number of registered deaths of people who were homeless from 778 in 2019 to 688 in 2020 – the first fall since 2014.

Homelessness charity St Mungo’s said the decrease in deaths was ‘evidence of the effectiveness of the cross-sector emergency response to the pandemic’.

David Ingerslev, regional head at St.Mungo’s, said: “Each of these number reflect a life lost and that is a tragedy.

“We know homelessness and health are inextricably linked with our clients often experiencing chronic health conditions.

“St Mungo’s, with Bristol Council, will continue to work day in day out to ensure that as many people as possible are supported off the streets and are able to access the health care they often so desperately need.”

St Mungo’s chief executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “We must remember that each of these deaths represents a person, someone’s son, daughter, sister or brother – and every one is a tragedy.

“What we know from our work out on the streets supporting people 365 days a year, from our clients’ experiences, and from our involvement with the Kerslake Commission, is that homelessness and health are inextricably linked.

“We have achieved a great deal treating homelessness as a public health emergency during Covid-19, however the work is not done.

“The positives achieved by the emergency response cannot be allowed to be lost. We must learn the lessons.”

While this drop in deaths is initially positive, the pandemic has created some uncertainty over their accuracy, with the ONS adding that the 2020 figures may underestimate the true number of homeless deaths.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Every death on our streets is one too many which is why we remain committed to ending rough sleeping altogether.

“The Everyone In scheme launched during the pandemic has helped 37,000 vulnerable people, and we are also providing more £2 billion over the next three years to tackle homelessness.