Cold weather warning: Crisis warns of rough sleeper fatalities as temperatures drop
Crisis urges all local authorities to open emergency shelters, and for public to be on high alert
National homelessness charity Crisis has warned of a heightened risk of fatalities amongst rough sleepers as temperatures continue to plummet across the country. Following the recent deaths of rough sleepers in Westminster, Edinburgh and Chelmsford, the charity is urging councils to act quickly to save lives, and for the public to contact StreetLink or their local council if they see someone sleeping rough.
Rough sleepers face extreme dangers, particularly in the cold winter weather. The average age of death for a male rough sleeper is 47, and for a female rough sleeper is just 43 years old.
Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, said:
“Rough sleeping at any time of year is incredibly dangerous, but when it's this cold it can be deadly. We're urging councils across the country to open their emergency winter night shelters and ensure no one is left alone and freezing on the streets.
“No one should ever have to sleep rough – yet thousands of people across the country have nowhere to turn. Official figures released last month showed that 4,700 people across the country are sleeping on the streets, and Crisis’s own research shows it’s more likely to be 9,000.
“If a member of the public in England or Wales is concerned for someone’s health safety, they can contact Streetlink, which connects rough sleepers with services in their local area. If they’re in Scotland, they should contact their local council. If there are immediate concerns about any rough sleepers health, then the emergency services should be called.
“In the long term, we must remember that rough sleeping is not inevitable – we have the evidence to show how it can be ended once and for all, so we’re pleased to see progress being made through the rough sleeping action group in Scotland and the rough sleeping taskforce in England. These efforts can’t come a moment too soon because no one should be forced to face the dangers of living on the streets.”
- There are currently no legal protections for people sleeping rough in England during severe weather – the provision of shelter is not a statutory duty, even when conditions are life threatening. However, there is a humanitarian obligation on local authorities to do all they can to prevent deaths on the streets, and for their partners and the public to support these efforts. For more information on the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol visit: https://www.homeless.org.uk/our-work/resources/guidance-on-severe-weather-emergency-protocol-swep-and-extended-weather-provision
- StreetLink can be reached on www.streetlink.org.uk, @Tell_StreetLink or through the StreetLink app.