The news that 449 homeless people died in the UK last year triggered shock – and a commitment by authorities to do more.
As part of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Dying Homeless project, their reporters spent an entire year digging into the reasons why homeless people can just disappear. They contacted charities, hospitals and journalists (including those at The Big Issue), attended funerals and spoke to families and friends to arrive at that final, shocking statistic.
Alarmingly however, the true figure, published to mark World Homeless Day on October 10, is thought to be significantly higher. After The Big Issue broke the news of the UK-first count there was a major Channel 4 News report, with a detailed look at the life of Big Issue vendor Fabian Bayet, who died in July. There was also widespread news coverage in major outlets, including the BBC, The Guardian and The Times.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire responded by calling for more Safeguarding Adult Reviews to be carried out into deaths after branding the figures “utterly shocking”.
“It does not reflect the modern Britain that I know, that we need to be,” the man responsible for implementing the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy told Channel 4.
But the most telling news came from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Ben Humberstone, ONS deputy director for health analysis and life events, penned a blog outlining how the office is in the final stages of producing its own “experimental” statistics by the end of the year.