Last Wednesday, a homeless man was found dead in the underpass of Westminster tube station, which serves the Houses of Parliament. The Metropolitan police reported the death as “unexplained, but not suspicious.”
A Portuguese national, he was a former model who had recently applied for jobs in hospitality, according to the charity Connection at St Martin’s, which had recently put up the man at its emergency night shelter.
Marcelo Rebelop de Sousa, Portugal’s president, paid tribute to the man and said the circumstances in which he died were “inhumane.”
Homelessness has increased by 169% since 2010. Office for National Statistics figures showed 4,751 people slept outside overnight in 2017, up 15% on the previous year.
The homelessness minister Heather Wheeler tweeted that “stories like this” would push her on “to find solutions and work to eradicate rough sleeping for good,” while Labour spokesperson John Healey said the death “shames us all as a nation,” while Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle wrote that the housing crisis was only one factor in the current rise in homelessness, with “the retraction of mental health services,” reductions in “council budgets”, the “withdrawal of proven interventions around drug and alcohol addiction”, cuts to disability benefits and “delays in universal credit payments” all playing a part.
If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough in England and Wales you can use the StreetLink website or app. Information provided is passed on to the local authority or outreach service for the area in which you have seen the person, to help them find the individual and connect them to support.
Image Credit: AFP/PA