There has been a significant increase in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of London in the past year and the rise is largely driven by people from Central and Eastern Europe.
7,581 homeless people were seen sleeping on the streets from April 2014 to March 2015. That’s a 16% increase on the previous 12 months. UK nationals make up 43% of that total and their numbers increased by 267 on the previous 12 months. Central and Eastern European make up 37% of the total and their numbers increased by 728 to 2,695. Romanians make up nearly half of this group (1,388) and their number has doubled since 2013-14. Poles are the second largest group of Eastern Europeans.
Rough sleepers are categorised in 3 ways – new people who have not been seen before, people who have been seen a number of times recently and are considered to be living on the streets, and intermittent rough sleepers who may have had contact with support networks previously.
All categories are up in the past 12 months with the most significant increase of 20% in intermittent rough sleepers, people back on the street. There had been little change in overall numbers in the previous year.
The data was produced by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) based on information supplied by outreach workers. CHAIN is funded by the GLA and managed by the charity St Mungos Broadway.
A high percentage of homeless people have problems with alcohol, drugs, mental health issues, or all 3. Outreach workers recorded that 41% needed support for alcohol problems and a similar proportion had mental health issues. 31% had drug problems.
Only 9 children were found sleeping rough in the year. People under 35 make up nearly half the number, but 710 older people, over 55, were discovered.
Nearly all the rough sleepers seen were men, 86%. 151 were former armed services members. 32% had been in prison.
A third of the rough sleepers in London are found in the central area of Westminster. Camden, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Southwark and City of London also have significant numbers and only Southwark saw a reduction in the period. 266 people were found sleeping rough at Heathrow Airport. That’s up by 100 on the previous year.
Outreach teams were able to get 2,197 rough sleepers into some form of accommodation. That’s 29%, down from 38% the previous year.