Charity's concerns over five Northampton homeless deaths

Image caption,
Northampton Hope Centre said the recent cold weather had highlighted the issues of homelessness

Five homeless people died in Northampton since Christmas "because of homelessness and its associated problems", the head of a charity said.

Robin Burgess, chief executive of Northampton Hope Centre, said the cold weather has "brought home the morbidity of homeless people".

Rough sleepers are "exhausted" trying to find somewhere to shelter, he said.

The charity hopes to create a memory board to commemorate those who die in the town.

Mr Burgess said the five people who died were aged between 25 and 55, with four of them under 45 and two in their 20s.

Numbers rise

"They all died prematurely because of homelessness and its associated problems," he said.

"They would all have been alive otherwise."

According to government figures, 4,751 people are sleeping rough in England - up 15% on last year.

Last month a homeless man was found dead in a London Underground station underpass leading to the Houses of Parliament.

Homeless deaths in Northampton since Christmas

  • Two rough sleepers died as a result of road traffic accidents, possibly due to being intoxicated
  • A man died in a tent from physical complications and the cold
  • A woman died on New Year's Eve for similar reasons
  • Another rough sleeper died from a drug overdose

Source: Northampton Hope Centre

The Hope Centre served breakfast to about 150 homeless people on Friday after taking in 34 rough sleepers the previous night.

A further 15 people took shelter in Northampton Borough Council's night shelter.

Mr Burgess said homeless people arriving at the centre were "very, very cold" and "very wet".

He said the "wind chill" has got to people who are "worn out, exhausted" from trying to find somewhere to shelter.

Image source, Northamptonshire Police
Image caption,
Northamptonshire Police bought breakfast for a man living in a tent near Northampton

On Thursday, Northamptonshire Police officers bought breakfast for a homeless man in a tent on the A45 near Northampton.

"No one should be living outside in this kind of weather," said PC Dave Lee.

Mr Burgess said addiction and illness caused by living on the streets were as much of a problem as the cold.

Rough sleepers, he said, "drink because they think it is warming them up when actually it is making things worse".

A BBC investigation found more than 21,000 homeless people nationally have been admitted to hospital with problems relating to drink and drugs over the past three years.

Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for housing, Stephen Hibbert, said the authority has been working to ensure "everyone has the chance to keep warm, eat a good meal and stay safe".

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