East Dunbartonshire man among 94 homeless deaths

GLASGOW. City Centre. Stock shot of the homeless on the streets of Glasgow. A homeless man and his partner sleep in this tent with their dog down at the river Clyde.
GLASGOW. City Centre. Stock shot of the homeless on the streets of Glasgow. A homeless man and his partner sleep in this tent with their dog down at the river Clyde.

An East Dunbartonshire man is among almost 100 homeless Scots who have died in the last year.

New research has revealed the shocking death toll for those sleeping on streets, in temporary accommodation or shelters.

The figures were published by investigators at The Ferret website and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).

Through a Freedom of Information request (FOI), the team were told that a 33-year-old from East Dunbartonshire died on February 1 this year. However, this was corrected to October 18, 2017, by East Dunbartonshire Council on Monday, who told the Herald an error had been given in the FOI response regarding the date of death and the age of the 
person was also 30 not 33.

No more information on the person is known at this time.

Local MP Jo Swinson has described the statistics, which show that 94 Scots died while homeless and a total of 449 people throughout the UK, as “shocking” and “devastating”.

She said: “These shocking figures shine a spotlight on the devastating and sometimes fatal impact of homelessness, which is claiming lives, including right here in East Dunbartonshire.

“This is a national emergency – more people than ever before in Scotland have sought housing advice and support services from Shelter in the past year. As a society, we must do more to tackle the issues that mean vulnerable people find themselves without proper shelter.

“There is an urgent need to build more social homes and to ensure housing benefits are sufficient for covering rent, as well as bringing the thousands of vacant properties across the country into use.

“We also need to tackle the wider issues in our institutions that can lead to vulnerable people becoming homeless, whether it’s prisoners being released into ‘unsettled’ or ‘unknown’accommodation, or long waiting times to see mental health specialists.

“We simply cannot turn a blind eye to this awful crisis.”

She added TBIJ, in partnership with Channel 4 News, found a former soldier, a physicist and a travelling musician were among those who lost their lives.

“Violence, drug overdoses and suicide were identified as some of the reasons why they died,” said Ms Swinson.

Meanwhile, Shelter Scotland have urged the Scottish Government to use some of £50 million pledged to their “Ending Homelessness Together Fund” to investigate why people are dying.

Graeme Brown, director of the charity, said: “These numbers are a disgrace and sadly, in all probability, only part of this tragic picture in Scotland.

“Shelter Scotland believe much more should be done to find out what can be 
done to prevent these personal tragedies being repeated.

“Each of these people was someone’s child, someone’s brother, sister, mother or 
father and their loss will be felt.”

Figures for Scotland include 47 deaths in Glasgow, including one death in the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter in January.

The full investigation can be found at https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/ and at theferret.scot.