Despite all the effort by communities and the government alike, the UK’s streets are still flooded with people who have nowhere to sleep
Official figures show that the number of rough sleepers has risen for the past 7 continual years. Government statics estimate that there is 4,751 people sleeping rough on the streets of London every night, an increase of 15% from 2016.
Statistics were gathered on a single night snapshot basis, where those sleeping on the streets were counted individually by human eye. Leaving room for human error, just how many people are resting their head on a cold pavement every night?
London accounts for 24% of the total England figure there is now 1,137 of rough sleepers in London, an increase of 18% from 2016. Across all 33 boroughs of London 58% of authorities reported an increase, 33% reported a decrease and 9% reported no changes from the previous year. The highest density population of rough sleepers was in Westminster, where nearly 250 rough sleepers were recorded in one night, followed closely by Brighton and Camden. Camden has had a huge increase of 647% from the previous year where just 17 were recorded. This has corrected the underestimated amount revealing the true scale of people sleeping on the streets every night.
There has been an increase of 14% in the rest of England, with 3,614 homeless sleeping rough. This was due to an increase in Brighton and Hove, Medway, Southend- on- Sea, Oxford, Tameside, Worthing, Salford and Eastbourne. Other areas where homeless people seem to crowd the most include Manchester, Luton and Bristol.
Of the rough sleepers counted in 2017: 8% were 18 to 25 year olds, 14% were women, 16% were EU nationals from outside the UK and 4% were from outside the EU. The nationality of 402 people was not known, suggesting that people were not willing to reveal their non-UK nationality. London also has the highest amount of unknown age, gender and nationality. Suggesting that some rough sleepers have reasons as to why they don’t seek help from local authorities.
Based in London, Chain is a network agency that also records information about rough sleepers by using outreach teams to try and get a more accurate picture of the numbers of people sleeping rough. The information is recorded directly with those who work with rough sleeping charities. They collect their data by counting individuals who are seen sleeping rough on the streets for at least one night during a period of time and their figures concluded that 8,108 people were seen sleeping rough between 2016 and 2017. From their data, they all record who has support needs. Between 2016 and 2017 35% had drug support requirements, 44% had alcohol support requirements and 47% had mental health support requirements, with 14% having issues with all 3.
The numbers concerning homelessness is shocking but it’s unclear what solutions can be implemented to drastically reduce the amounts of people with no shelter to sleep under. With immigration always in constant acceleration, and seeing the housing crisis go nowhere but up the future of those born into poverty and seeking asylum in the UK have an unclear future. However, problems can’t be solved until clearer statistics are released. The definition of a ‘rough sleeper’ is susceptible to manipulation depending on social, financial and political standpoints, leaving the stats – and the issue itself – in the dark.