‘We should be ashamed’ - 12 rough sleepers thought to have died homeless last year
PUBLISHED: 12:15 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:12 02 October 2019
At least nine people died while homeless on the streets of Norfolk last year, new figures have revealed.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, three homeless people died in Great Yarmouth, two in King's Lynn and west Norfolk, three in Norwich and one in south Norfolk.
But the actual figure may be higher - councils estimate that 12 people may have died while homeless.
The number of identified deaths comes as a slight increase on 2017, when eight homeless deaths were recorded, but a fall on 2016, when 10 were registered.
Those who died while living on the streets last year included 54-year-old father and former electrician Liam Lynch, who was found dead in an alleyway off King Street last August.
An inquest held into his death later heard that his death came four months after he left prison and had turned to crack cocaine.
In September, Remigijus Balsevicius was found at the bottom of a stairwell on Old Post Office Court.
An inquest into his death later heard that the 51-year-old father had been living in a tent.
Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of homelessness charity St Martins Housing Trust, said while three deaths was too many, more were avoided by the "exceptional" work of the Pathways scheme, a partnership of seven local organisations set up to support rough sleepers.
And she said St Martins' bid to create a homeless hub in an empty office on Recorder Road would "save lives", allowing people to have their needs assessed in accommodation, rather than on the street.
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She added: "It's 2019 - we should be ashamed that we have people dying while homeless. It shouldn't be happening."
In August, the government told Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs), which in Norfolk is run by several bodies including Norfolk County Council, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, Norfolk Constabulary and HMP Norwich, to review all the deaths of rough sleepers in their areas.
Norfolk County Council said, considering limited resources, it would be difficult to do.
SABs carry out reviews when someone dies or is seriously harmed as a result of abuse or neglect, and where authorities could have done more to help, but there have been calls to see more homeless deaths reviewed.
We have contacted the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board for comment.
Nationally, an estimated 726 homeless people died in 2018, a 22pc increase in one year.
Deaths from drugs have more than doubled in the six years the ONS has been recording the data.
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