8 Rough Sleepers Dead In Cambridge Since 2015

The youngest man was just 29 when he died in 2017 while rough sleeping in Cambridge.

By Katy, Cambridge · May 11, 2020

Eight rough sleepers have died in Cambridge since 2015.

Two men in their 50s in 2015 and two men died in 2016, one aged 30 and one whose age is not known. A 29-year-old man died in 2017, followed by three men in 2018, aged 65, 46, and unknown. No one has died in 2019.

No deaths of female rough sleepers were reported.

No deaths were reported in 2019, a year when the council’s budget rose significantly for supporting rough sleepers. In 2015/16 the budget stood at £375,670, rising to £423,690 and £579,304 over the following two years. In 2018/19, it rose again, to £691,914, before increasing over 21% in a year, to £839,481. Over five years, the budget increased by 123%.  

The council also supports rough sleepers through the Cold Weather Fund and the Severe Emergency Weather protocol (SWEP). These funds, particularly the SWEP, allow for extra funding to be spent on emergency accommodation for rough sleepers. A portion of the Homelessness Prevention Fund is also spent on rough sleepers.

The data was sourced by the media literacy charity The Student View following a Freedom of Information request to Cambridge City Council. 

On the 25th March 2010, local paper Cambridgeshire Live reported that “every rough sleeper in Cambridge to be offered a bed during the (coronavirus) pandemic”, adding that “hours before the city council made its commitment to offer accommodation, a number of rough sleepers told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they had received no official guidance or help from any authority during the pandemic so far.”

David Greening, Head of Housing, Cambridge City Council said, “Cambridge City Council is committed to finding accommodation for people sleeping rough on the streets. Sadly, rough sleepers often have complex lives and in spite of the council’s best efforts not everyone accepts the help on offer.

“Many of the rough sleepers the council works with have significant physical and mental health challenges, or long-standing addiction problems. The council works very carefully with partners in the NHS and public health to mitigate the health impacts of rough sleeping. It established a dedicated primary healthcare service for homeless people in the city in 2003 and commissioned a dual diagnosis street team who work directly with rough sleepers with both substance misuse and mental health problems.

“The council is constantly working to provide somewhere safe for all people sleeping rough, working to tailor offers to individuals’ particular requirements, such as the need to be close to drug and alcohol treatment services, or for familiar surroundings.

“Nobody can be compelled to accept or remain in accommodation offered to them, with some people who are used to being part of a street-based community finding it very difficult to remain in accommodation off the streets.

“The council set up Cambridge Street Aid to help individuals take control of their lives and thanks to the generosity of local people donations of more than £100,000 have been received. The money raised so far has funded more than 260 grants for people who have been sleeping rough in Cambridge, to provide help for them to them get off and stay off the streets.

“Every single penny donated to Cambridge Street Aid goes directly to grants for individuals. People can donate to Cambridge Street Aid online, and in ordinary circumstances, via a number of contactless donation points in Cambridge and beyond. Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper can report their whereabouts using Street Link or the local Street Support tools. The council will follow up every report.”