• Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

‘Massive concern’ over homeless deaths – as desperate rough sleepers turn to unique initiatives


Dec 26, 2022

There are major fears homeless deaths in Scotland could rocket this winter as the cost of living crisis worsens.

The Simon Community charity, which is supporting record numbers of vulnerable people, has told Sky News the number of Scots suffering homelessness is a “massive concern”.

Recent official figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) reveal an estimated 250 homeless people died last year, which is around 50% higher than in 2017.

Lorraine McGrath, the charity’s chief executive, said: “It is a worsening position over the last three to four years, which is a massive concern.

“The vast majority of those people are under 45 years old.

“That is because of the massive health inequalities they face, the stress on their body that leads to premature ageing, that leads to the long-term conditions that may well be easily treatable.

“People experiencing homelessness don’t enjoy the same access to health care, which increases their risk of early death.”

Fears pandemic disguised scale of crisis

The NRS data also confirms the number of children living in temporary accommodation in Scotland has risen to the highest level since records began in 2002.

While the number of people rough sleeping in Scotland has dropped in recent years, charities suggest the pandemic disguised the problem.

In Aberdeen, an army of street volunteers paces the pavements most days, issuing basic supplies to those in need.

Olivia McKay, from Street Friends Aberdeen, said: “I started over a year ago, and we were seeing up to 20 people a day giving them blankets, sleeping bags, food, and clothes.

“Now, because of the cost of living crisis, we are seeing up to 65 people a day.”

Olivia McKay is a volunteer for Street Friends Aberdeen

‘There were tears in his eyes’

There are other unique initiatives that individuals are doing on a community level to help.

On a housing estate in the Highland city of Inverness is Gillian McCann, who makes foil blankets for the homeless using recycled crisp packets.

The retail worker has converted her spare room in to a workshop where she irons materials together to create larger sheets and told Sky News she has provided more than 600 items to those in need.

“The group that I am part of got feedback from a guy who sleeps on the streets and there were tears in his eyes,” she said. “He was so delighted with this. It was life changing.”

Read more:
People turn to recycled Christmas gifts
‘No mother wants to choose between food and bills’


Shona Robison, Scottish government cabinet secretary for social justice, housing and local government, said the deaths of homeless people are a tragedy and “something we want to avoid”.

She continued: “Our approach is about getting people in to accommodation but also the wrap-around support to help address addiction, mental health. We are providing funding through local authorities.

“Nobody should have to sleep rough in Scotland, and that’s why we are working with local authorities to identify further solutions.”

Source : BBC News

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