Nearly 1,000 homeless people in the United Kingdom died in 2020, a 37% increase from the numbers reported in 2019, according to a study conducted by a community-driven organization.
Data from the Dying Homeless Project, which is run by the Museum of Homelessness (MoH), showed that 976 homeless people in the U.K. have died last year, a rise by over a third from the 710 deaths recorded in 2019.
According to the data, 693 (71%) of the deaths were reported in England and Wales, 176 (18%) in Scotland, and 107 (11%) in Northern Ireland.
The study also found that less than 3% of the cases with a confirmed cause of death were due to COVID-19. Instead, 36% of the cases were related to drug and alcohol use while 15% were due to suicide.
The numbers come despite the government’s Everybody In campaign, which launched at the beginning of the pandemic to shelter the homeless.
Although MoH acknowledged that the campaign had the “significant achievement” of a low number of COVID-19 deaths among the homeless, MoH Co-founder Jess Turtle said that the campaign did not prevent “a staggering increase in the number of people dying while homeless–despite the best efforts of our colleagues around the country who worked 24 hours a day on emergency response.”
“These heart-breaking findings demonstrate how the pandemic hit a system already cut to the bone from 10 years of austerity and the scale of the challenge we face to recover,” Turtle said, urging more efforts from the government “to stop this terrible loss of life.”
MoH also warned that the actual death toll could be higher because it did not receive responses from some local authorities, including a third of London boroughs and Birmingham, the second largest city in the U.K.