Tragic toll of homeless on West Norfolk streets is revealed
More than 10 homeless people have died in West Norfolk over the past six years according to new national statistics.
Of the 11 people who died within the borough between 2013 and 2018, three died over the last year.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures took into account anyone with no fixed abode at the time of their death.
This includes rough sleepers as well as those living in night shelters and hostels.
In response to the figures, a spokeswoman for West Norfolk Council said a new specialist rough sleeper service has been commissioned, while £30,000 has been pumped into the King’s Lynn Winter Night Shelter, which will open again next month.
She added: “We are aware of the tragic deaths of people who we know have been homeless or rough sleeping, and we are focused on eradicating rough sleeping.
“It is particularly dreadful if rough sleeping has contributed to someone’s life being cut short.
“Rough sleeping is dangerous and is not, as some suggest, a lifestyle choice.
“It is often a consequence of multiple disadvantage, and often associated with mental illness or addiction. This makes finding solutions complicated.”
Consultation on a new homeless and rough sleeping strategy will aim to tackle homelessness by developing new accommodation options in the borough.
It comes as the ONS figures show 726 homeless people died across England and Wales in 2018.
This was 22 per cent higher than the previous year and 51 per cent more than in 2013.
The West Norfolk Council spokeswoman added: “The issue of homelessness is often hidden or misunderstood.
“Many people end up with no fixed abode, through no fault of their own and may be sleeping in empty barns or sheds as well as on friends’ sofas.
“It is not just the archetypal rough sleeper in the local park or shop doorway that we need to worry about.”
She said ongoing conversations are taking place with hostels to find more emergency beds.
“The council works with many organisations including accommodation providers and charities providing support in efforts to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping.”
Shaun Riley, a homeless man living in a tent in King’s Lynn Town Football Club’s car park believes the new figures will continue to grow.
He said: “There will be another one by Christmas as Amy [his partner] is getting very ill.
“More and more homeless people will be dead.”