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'Every day is scary': Rough sleepers speak out as figures reveal five deaths on borough's streets

PUBLISHED: 12:06 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:50 11 October 2019

Members of Barking and Dagenham's homeless community have spoken out after figures revealed five rough sleepers have died on the borough's streets since 2016. Picture: Jon King

Members of Barking and Dagenham's homeless community have spoken out after figures revealed five rough sleepers have died on the borough's streets since 2016. Picture: Jon King

Archant

Members of the homeless community have spoken out after five rough sleepers died on the borough's streets.

Ray and his friend Melvin had their blankets, ground sheet, sleeping bags and spare clothes taken while they were away from the spot where they bed down in Short Blue Place, Barking, on Thursday, October 3.

The 62-year old - who suffers from osteoporosis and deep vein thrombosis - also had medicine taken.

He estimated the value of the things seized was £125.

Ray said he has received help in the past, but returned to the streets because he found it hard to reconnect with the world.

He was speaking in the week figures were released showing 726 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018.

Five people died on Barking and Dagenham's streets from 2016-18, the Office for National Statistics reports.

Brenda Otto, from homeless organisation Nightingale Angels UK, said: "It's heartbreaking. It shouldn't be happening in our borough."

A 2018 council count identified nine rough sleepers, but Ray believes there are more..

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This includes Marie, 34, who needed stitches after she was attacked by another rough sleeper for refusing his advances.

And Egidius said he has been homeless since his mother died when he was 15.

"Every day is scary. I feel like I'm dying on the streets," he said.

Brenda said there is an issue with homelessness in Barking and Dagenham, but just putting a roof over someone's head was not the only answer with many people needing to engage in support for their mental health, alcohol and drug addictions.

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: "This is a known problem across London, one death is too many.

"Compared to the impact in other London boroughs, even compared to our neighbours, our numbers are lower.

"We appeal to people to alert the council of anyone sleeping rough so they can be offered help and support.

"We provide a range of support to rough sleepers including referrals to drug services where appropriate."

He added it is tempting for people to give money when people are begging, but if you see anyone sleeping rough 
you can report it at streetlink.org.uk

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