ALMOST 50 people registered as homeless died in Glasgow in a year according to official figures.

The city's total was almost one third of all deaths registered in Scotland for people who were homeless, where the total was 152.

The numbers include people in temporary accommodation as well as those sleeping rough and most were drug related.

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The actual number could be even higher as statistics from the National Records of Scotland are "experimental" and  they showed that while there were 49 identifiable deaths. However it stated  there was an estimated 63 homeless deaths in the city.

The stats reveal Scotland has the highest rate of homeless deaths in the UK with  a rate of 35.9 per million population compared to 16.8 in England and 14.5 in Wales.

The figures show:

  • In 2018 Glasgow City 100.5 and Aberdeen City 67.8 had the highest homeless death rates per million population. 
  • More than half of homeless deaths in 2018 were drug-related 53%.
  • Around three quarters of homeless deaths were males, 74% of the total in 2017 and 79% in 2018.
  • The mean age at death was 43 for females and 44 for males.

Campaigners said the figures demand urgent action.

Grant Campbell, Director of Crisis Scotland, said: “For the first time, we can see the true, devastating scale of the number of people who have died without a place to call home, because of failings within the very system which should have prevented them from falling into poverty and homelessness in the first place. Behind these figures are human beings - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters."

Graeme Brown, Director of housing charity, Shelter Scotland, said: “Behind these shocking figures lie individual personal tragedies. People living in desperate situations ultimately failed by the system. They will leave behind them bereaved relatives and friends who have our sympathies.

 “It is vital that the effort to end this loss of life does not end with the publication of the figures.

 “The housing, health, social care and justice sectors need to work more closely together to ensure people get the tailored support they need for health issues such as mental illness and addictions. We also need to see housing that supports people to recover and stay well.”

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Sean Clerkin, housing campaigner had a petition considered at Holyrood on extra funding for homeless services.

He said: “The horrific number of homeless deaths in Scotland in 2017 and 2018 further underlines the inhuman way we still treat homeless people in a very unequal society.

“We urge the Finance Secretary Derek McKay to set aside £130million in his budget. This financial investment would provide first class Rapid Re-Housing Transition, Housing First and very good temporary accommodation for a short period.”

In Glasgow the council and health board said the deaths were another sign of the drugs emergency.

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A spokeswoman for Glasgow's Health & Social Care Partnership said: “Tragically, many of our service users who died had previous or existing addiction issues, some also had significant physical and mental health needs. It is the complexity of those needs, which often contributed to their deaths, rather than specific matters associated with their housing status.

"Sadly, Scotland and Glasgow is experiencing a drugs deaths crisis – which includes record numbers of fatal overdoses and a rise in HIV infections. Some people known to homeless services are among those who have lost their lives – mainly in temporary accommodation or hospitals. This can be emotionally difficult for other residents and staff who work closely with service users often on a daily basis.

“All our homeless services are provided with Naloxone kits which can be used in the event of an overdose to revive someone while the emergency services are en-route. Free Naloxone kits and training are also available to friends and relatives of people known to have drug addiction problems in Glasgow.

“In just four months last year, at the city’s Winter Night Shelter, Naloxone was used 17 times to revive people experiencing an overdose. This starkly demonstrates the extent of the health emergency the city is facing.

“The city’s Housing First programme is helping homeless people with complex needs access mainstream tenancies quickly with wrap-around support to help them to sustain their tenancies. Currently 98 formerly homeless people have secured Housing First tenancies in the city, since the initiative began in September 2018. The majority of these tenancies have been maintained with additional support reflecting our commitment to those with the greatest needs.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the government was “doubling it’s efforts to tackle homelessness.

Glasgow Times: Kevin Stewart MSP

He said: “While this report is based on experimental statistics, it’s findings will help the Scottish Government to further understand the many issues affecting the most vulnerable in our society and will help us as we double our efforts to eradicate homelessness and it’s causes, in Scotland.”

Paul Lowe, the Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland and Registrar General for Scotland, said: “NRS has developed a method of estimating the incidence of homeless deaths in response to user demand. It is important to stress that these are experimental statistics and we will continue to work with users and stakeholders to assess their suitability and quality, as we continue to develop our methodology in future years”