The drama of the homeless people in the UK: 78 died last winter

Non-governmental organizations argue that low temperatures and cuts in public policies are the main causes of these deaths

The drama of the homeless people in the UK: 78 died last winter

The death of a homeless person last February in the underground passage of Westminster, at the foot of the British Parliament, opened a political and social debate on the deterioration of the aid services provided to these citizens.

Leer en español: El drama de las personas sin hogar en el Reino Unido: el pasado invierno murieron 78

It is estimated that the number of homeless has grown by 169% since 2010. The Government says that there are 4,571 people sleeping on streets, but NGOs raise this figure to 9,000, to which we must add another 9,000 who overnight in vehicles or tents, and 78,000 in shelters managed by both the State and non-profit organizations. The profile of those who have died in these circumstances is, usually, a man (88% of the total) with an average age of 43 years. In the report of BI (Bureau of Investigative Journalism), there are cases as dramatic as that of Robert Wallis, 41, who died in the arms of his mother, also homeless, in the shelter that he had just arrived after spending several outdoor nights with temperatures down to -10 °.

This episode has returned to the present time when it is known that at least 78 homeless people died in the street during the winter, one of the hardest that is remembered in Europe. The report issued by the BI attributed this figure to the low temperatures and the continuous cuts in social policies.

Among these people, invisible to society, there were a war veteran and a quantum physicist. This reflects that the problem does not only shake those who are not graduated or are immersed in drugs, but that a bad streak or bad decisions can lead to the street those who had lived with dignity until then.

The deputy and leader of the Labor Party, now in opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, criticized at that time that many members of Parliament ignored that reality so close to their workplace and decided to "walk on the other side of the street." Corbyn recently presented a plan to build 8,000 homes for the homelss and harshly attacked the austerity measures promoted by Prime Minister, Theresa May.

May has just presented the Law on the reduction of homeless people, with an investment equivalent to 1.400 billion euros, which aims to reduce by half the number of people sleeping on the street by 2022. However, this goal seems difficult if the cuts in social aid do not cease, to which we must add the exorbitant rents in cities such as London or the shortage of social housing.

On the other hand, there are deputies who see in the homeless a nuisance to the image of the country. Therefore, a great controversy was created by the proposal of the Deputy Mayor of Windsor, the conservative Simon Dudley, to recover the Law of Vagrants and Crooks of 1824 and apply it to the homeless to "clean" the streets of the city before the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which will take place on May 19.


Latin American Post | José María González
Translated from "El drama de las personas sin hogar en el Reino Unido: el pasado invierno murieron 78"

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