Seven Rough Sleepers Die On Cardiff Streets In Three Years

The rough sleepers who died in Cardiff include a man who died aged just 20 in 2018 and another man who died aged 29 in 2016.

By Sahara and Ayshah, Cardiff · April 28, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

Seven homeless people died in Cardiff over a three year period while living on the streets. 

This included one female in her 40s who died in 2017, and a young man of just 20, who died in 2018. Two further men died in 2018, in their late 50s and late 40s. Three more men died in 2016; one in his late 20’s, the others 29 and 45.

Cardiff Council were unable to be specific with all ages, instead providing some approximations.

The findings were sourced via a Freedom of Information request to Cardiff Council by media literacy charity The Student View.

In their response to the request, the council note the 2019 rough sleeper support budget was £1,429,528, adding that this figure “only includes direct expenditure for rough sleepers and does not include elements paid to organisations whose users may include rough sleepers as unable to quantify exact numbers.”

Cardiff Council stressed that “the authority provides funding to a range of accommodation providers to support people who are rough sleeping, these are not included in the above budget.”

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council said: “Every homeless death is a tragedy and we are always saddened when individuals who have been sleeping rough pass away. The circumstances are always investigated to see what lessons can be learned and to ensure we are doing the best we can to support vulnerable people.
“Cardiff is no different to other UK cities, which have experienced a spike in the number of rough sleepers over recent years, but we do have a good track record of helping people off the streets. Last year we supported 198 people into a wide range of accommodation, including Housing First schemes, as well as specialist support services that can help people experiencing homelessness to get their lives back on track.
“Helping the homeless is a priority for us and Cardiff has some of the best services in the country to help rough sleepers to rebuild their lives. The average life expectancy of someone living on the streets is only 47 and many of our clients have serious health conditions, either caused or exacerbated by a life on the streets. This is why we have a dedicated Homeless Outreach team which goes out seven days a week to find rough sleepers and to offer them help.
“Last year we expanded our Outreach services creating a Multi-Disciplinary outreach team made up from a range of professionals with the expertise to help people with complex needs. The team includes a drug and alcohol worker, nurses, social workers, therapeutic worker and counsellor, peer mentors and access to rapid prescribing services. It has played a big part alongside Outreach to bring the numbers of rough sleepers down and to help people into the accommodation and services which can help turn their lives around.
“We take a case work approach with each person sleeping rough, a central database records the action taken to help the individual and the effectiveness of this, tracking their journey into accommodation and beyond. When our Outreach team can no longer find an individual on the street, and this is not because they have been housed, officers do their best to trace where that individual has gone. It is very unusual for individuals to disappear without trace, so we can be confident that the reduction in rough sleeping is not due to unidentified deaths.
“Two of the most recent rough sleeper deaths in the city happened in tents. Last year, the Council became particularly concerned about the number of tents being used by rough sleepers for several reasons. In the main we found that they acted as a barrier to positive engagement with services, they gave a false sense of security and led to difficulties checking on the welfare of occupants, who are less visible inside a tent. A number of fires in tents also occurred heightening concerns for people’s safety.
“Our outreach team worked closely with clients on the street to support them into suitable accommodation and as a result the number of tents has reduced from more than 30 at their peak to none at present. As soon as any new tents do appear, our outreach team engages immediately with occupants.
“Earlier this year our efforts saw the number of people rough sleeping in the city fall to a six-year low of 34. This is particularly positive when compared to the figure of 87 in September 2019, just a few months before.
“The number of people sleeping out has dropped significantly during the COVID-19 emergency as we have successfully supported people into accommodation. Currently there are only 5 rough sleepers, and the number has been as low as 2.  We are using this time to work closely with individuals to help them on their journey to leave away the streets for good.”