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Deaths of mentally ill rough sleepers in London rise sharply

Research released on Tuesday by the homeless charity St Mungo’s shows that four out of five (80%) rough sleepers who died in London in 2017 had mental health needs, an increase from three in 10 (29%) in 2010.

The charity is calling on the prime minister to take urgent action to prevent more people dying on the streets and ensure that no death goes ignored.

The charity called on the government to invest more in specialist support, saying that with NHS services “severely overstretched” this could sometimes be overlooked.

“Research carried out by St Mungo’s showed that only 32% of the areas where 10 or more people are sleeping rough on any one night commission mental health services actively targeting people sleeping rough,” the report said.

Additionally, 70% of outreach workers surveyed by the charity said access to mental health support for people sleeping rough had got harder over the last five years, compared to just 5% who said it had become easier and 25% who said it stayed the same.

The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalists revealed earlier this year that 340 homeless people died on the streets or in temporary accommodation in the last six years, surging from 32 in 2013 to 78 in 2017. A further 59 deaths have been recorded so far this year, already more than the whole of 2016.

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