Protect addiction support to tackle rising street deaths
published on 23 Nov 2022
The Salvation Army is urging local authorities to ringfence money for addiction support services as new figures show an 8% increase in the number of homeless people who have died on the streets in 2021.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures published today shows 741 homeless people died, compared with 688 people in 2020.
Of these, almost 2 in 5 deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning (259 estimated deaths; 35% of the total number). This is consistent with previous years. Almost 1 in 10 deaths were alcohol-specific (71 estimated deaths; 9.6% of the total number)
Salvation Army Director of Homelessness Services Nick Redmore said:
“Supporting someone in preventing addiction related harm can save lives and give people the best chance to move on from rough sleeping. In the next few years, local authority budgets will be pushed to breaking point, which is why it is more important than ever before to invest funding in the right places.
“We are calling for half of homelessness funding to be focused on support services such as addiction and mental health support as this will be a major mitigating factor to reversing the rising number of street deaths.
“Investing in the future of someone sleeping rough will save lives and money. Putting money into prevention gives people a fighting chance of breaking the cycle of rough sleeping and can help with moving off the street into homes, and help with employment opportunities while improving their family life.”
This Christmas the Salvation Army’s services will be working hard to support people who are sleeping rough.
Emergency support includes:
- Distributing hot meals, warm clothing, and providing access to laundry and showers, a safe place to sleep, and advise on accessing support for addiction, mental health and safe and secure settled accommodation
- Having access to “warm spaces” through our day shelters and other Salvation Army community based locations
- Piloting Nap Pads in partnership with a local authority. The ‘pop up’ self-contained units offer clean, warm, safe and private shelter. Technology inside each Nap Pad monitors people sleeping and alerts the authorities if the occupant stops breathing
As part of SWEP (the Severe Weather Emergency protocol), The Salvation Army around the UK will also make sure rough sleepers are safe if the weather worsens and temperatures drop below zero.